This activity has three components to address key knowledge gaps (e.g. Armstrong et al, 2016) and complement other UKRI programmes such as the NERC/ESRC programme on unconventional hydrocarbons.


This research aims to develop an understanding of ecosystem responses to solar parks, developing a typology of solar park response, dependent on management and location. This work will include a national survey of 40 different sites to explore ecosystem responses, including the effect of different management conditions and geographical settings. Specifically, vegetation (biomass and community composition) and soil (including C, N, & density) response will be assessed. Pollinator response at a subset of sites will be supported through a NERC ENVISION CASE PhD studentship. The data, along with existing microclimate data, will be used to further understanding of carbon dynamics.

Cumulative impacts of renewable energy in Scotland

The ADVENT project previously investigated the cumulative impact of wind farms on the environment and the economy, due to peatland, forest and agriculture loss –  with the impact found to be significant (Fabrizio Albanito in writing). This work will be extended to consider the electrification of transport, exploring impacts from the installation of electricity supply infrastructure, road building and railway extensions as a means to decarbonize transport infrastructure. The research will also explore the decarbonization of heat looking at bioenergy (with and without CCS), and heat pumps – including impacts on electricity supply and infrastructure, as well as land impacts and heat island effects. Results will be compared against the natural resources required to reduce demand by improving housing efficiency.

Offshore wind farms

The UK has set an ambitious target of having offshore wind farms provide more than enough electricity to power every home in the country by 2030, based on current electricity usage. This boosts the government’s previous 30GW offshore wind target to 40GW. This research will consider the environmental and social costs of such a transition. This be informed and tested using existing data from UK offshore wind farms, particularly those collected as part of statutory monitoring. Using a range of spatially resolved approaches, it will provide new tools for decision-makers that allow them to take a whole-systems perspective to help maximise societal benefits Together, the new knowledge and expertise delivered by the project will provide a major contribution to ensuring that energy and natural capital policies can be developed in a coherent manner for the maximal benefit of society as a whole.