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Sunny waters: meeting our energy, water and climate mitigation needs with floating solar

By SolarWriter (Own work), cropped [CC BY-SA 3.0]

What it’s about? Supplying sufficient energy to meet rising demands whilst transitioning to low carbon sources to avoid dangerous climate change is a global grand challenge. Solar photovoltaics (PV), deployed in various ways, will significantly contribute to future low carbon energy supply. Floating solar, or floatovoltaics, is a relatively new means of PV deployment across the world. However, deployment is hampered by the dearth of understanding of the impacts of floatovoltaics on water body processes, function and ecosystem services. This PhD, in partnership with United Utilities, will provide understanding that unlocks the potential for floatovoltaics, in the UK and overseas.

What’s the focus? You will develop some of the first understanding of the impacts of floatovoltaics on water bodies from both in situ monitoring and field and laboratory experiments. You will work with stakeholders to ensure impact from the research you undertake, with the ultimate aim of empowering UK water companies to lower their carbon emissions whilst protecting or enhancing water quality.

What do you get from it? You will be highly trained in lake and energy science, developing a suite of skills including experimental design, field skills, data analysis, water quality analysis, scientific writing, and the collaboration and communication skills required to work with stakeholders. You will become an expert in floatovoltaics and have the opportunity to undertake an internship with United Utilities. You will be part of, and supported by, a floatovoltaics research team across Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) and the Centre of Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). Being part of LEC (rated 5th in the UK for environmental science and geography studies) and the internationally renowned CEH Lake Ecosystem Group offers all the benefits of a vibrant community of researchers. As an ENVISION DTP, LEC and CEH PhD student, you will have access to extensive top quality training provision.

The successful candidate for this highly topical PhD, with implications for water supply and energy provision, will have a Masters and/or undergraduate degree in environmental science, biogeochemistry, ecology, geography, biology or an alternative discipline that provides appropriate knowledge and skills for the project.

We strongly encourage any interested candidates contact Dr Alona Armstrong,, for further insight into the project and training.