RESEARCH AND INNOVATION TO ENSURE SUSTAINABLE DEPLOYMENT OF FLOATOVOLTAICS

Our Vision

Our vision is to elucidate the judicious deployment of floatovoltaics, to minimise any deleterious impacts on the water body, and maximise beneficial impacts.

Who We Are

We are scientists at Lancaster University and affiliates from international universities and research institutes with expertise in water bodies and the energy sector, underpinned by field, laboratory and modelling skills.

Our Approach

We pursue a collaborative approach, working together with industry, regulatory bodies and academic partners from around the world, to ensure decision-making can be based on the best possible expertise.

If you’d like to hear more or find out how you can work with us, please contact us.

Potential Impact

There are many potential impacts of floatovoltaics on the hosting water body. Resolving what they may be is essential to ensure the sustainable provision of much needed low carbon energy alongside other critical things the water body provides society. Compellingly, such understanding could also be used to promote positive water body impacts.

The influence of floatovoltaics on water bodies primarily stem from their physical presence altering the receipts of sunlight and wind. Ultimately, this has implications for surface heating and wind-mixing of the water body which, together, determine stratification with consequences for a myriad of water body physical, chemical and biological properties and processes.

The range of effects could extend from highly desirable outcomes, such as reduced evaporative water losses and reduced occurrence of cyanobacterial blooms, to detrimental effects such as deep water anoxia causing release of nutrients and contaminates from the bed sediments. Moreover, there could be significant perturbation to carbon cycling with positive or negative implications for the true carbon intensity of the electricity produced and thus the decarbonisation attraction of this emerging source of low carbon energy generation.

 

Whilst some outcomes are likely to be ubiquitous across water bodies, for example, reduced evaporation, others will be highly dependent upon water body characteristics, for example algae response. Floatovoltaic system design could be innovated to alter the disturbance to the water body, with the potential to promote benefits and minimise detrimental effects. Understanding the full suite effects for a particular water body and floatovoltaic design is essential to ensure well informed decisions that do not trade low carbon electricity generation for local scale ecosystem harm.

PEOPLE

Dr Alona Armstrong

I am a Senior Lecturer in Lancaster Environment Centre and Deputy Director of Energy Lancaster. I focus on understanding the interactions between energy infrastructure and the environment. I use this understanding to inform policy and practice, with the underpinning aim of promoting the delivery of environmental co-benefits from the energy transition.

Dr Trevor Page

I am an environmental modeller in Lancaster Environment Centre with interests in scale-dependent process-representation and uncertainty analysis. I have experience of lake modelling, including algal communities, and catchment modelling, primarily hydrology and nutrients. I’ve undertaken preliminary assessment of the impact of floatovoltaics on water physical, chemical and biological properties.

Giles Exley

I am a PhD student at Lancaster University and the University of Stirling, studying the effects of floatovoltaics on water body process and function. I have developed extensions to existing lake models, adapting their functionality to simulate the effect of floatovoltaic deployment on water body physical processes and will be undertaking fieldwork at the UK’s 3rd floatovoltaic array.

AFFILIATES

Steve Thackeray

I am a senior researcher at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, with a particular focus on freshwater science. My research tackles the broad issue of how environmental pressures, such as climate change and eutrophication, impact upon the state and functioning of lake ecosystems 

Raoul Couture

I am an associate professor in the department of chemistry at Laval University, Québec, Canada. I am an aquatic geochemist studying coupled geochemical cycles in lakes, soils and sediments, with a focus developing sampling approaches and modelling tools suitable for northern aquatic environments.

Kateria Salk-Gundersen

I am a Visiting Assistant Professor of Water Resources at Duke University. I am a limnologist with a focus on the impacts of biogeochemical processes on water quality. I use a variety of field-based methods and modelling to inform understanding and management of water quality issues in lakes, including harmful algal blooms, nutrient loading, and greenhouse gas production.