Scientific and stakeholder evidence-based assessment:Ecosystem response to floating solar photovoltaics and implications for sustainability

Exley, Giles and Hernandez, Rebecca and Page, Trevor and Chipps, Michael and Gambro, Stefano and Hersey, Matt and Lake, Richard and Stella-Zoannou, Kali and Armstrong, Alona (2021) Scientific and stakeholder evidence-based assessment:Ecosystem response to floating solar photovoltaics and implications for sustainability. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 152. ISSN 1364-0321

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Floating solar photovoltaic (FPV) installations are increasing globally. However, their interaction with the hosting water body and implications for ecosystem function is poorly understood. Understanding potential impacts is critical as water bodies provide many ecosystem services on which humans rely and are integral for delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here, we used scientific evidence from a systematic review and stakeholder expertise, captured through an international survey and a workshop, alongside existing understanding of the role of water bodies in delivering ecosystem services and the SDGs. We found 22 evidence outcomes that indicated potential physical, chemical and biological impacts of FPV on water bodies. Assessment by stakeholders from across sectors indicated that reduced water evaporation is the greatest opportunity, whilst changes to water chemistry, including nitrification and deoxygenation, are the greatest threat. Despite these findings, FPV operators reported no observed water quality or ecosystem impacts. However, only 15% of respondents had performed water quality analysis; visual inspection alone cannot ascertain all water quality impacts. Based on the integration of these findings, we determined that FPV could impact nine ecosystem services. Furthermore, established linkages between ecosystem services and SDGs indicate the potential for impacts on eight SDGs, although whether the impact is positive or negative is likely to depend on FPV design and water body type. Our results further the understanding of the effects of FPVs on host water bodies and may help to ensure the anticipated growth in FPVs minimises threats and maximises opportunities, safeguarding overall sustainability.

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Journal Article
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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
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Deposited On:
08 Sep 2021 15:00
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2022 01:30