EGU21-685, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Prioritising ecosystem opportunities and threats of floating solar photovoltaics

Giles Exley1, Rebecca R. Hernandez2,3, Trevor Page1, Michael Chipps4, Stefano Gambro5, Matt Hersey6, Richard Lake7, Kali-Stella Zoannou8, and Alona Armstrong1,9
Giles Exley et al.
  • 1Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK (
  • 2Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis, Davis, CA, USA
  • 3Wild Energy Initiative, John Muir Institute of the Environment, UC Davis, CA, USA
  • 4Thames Water Research, Development and Innovation, Kempton Park AWTW, Feltham Hill Road, Hanworth, TW13 6XH, UK
  • 5Ennoviga Solar Ltd, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, England, WC1N 3AX, UK
  • 6South East Water, Rocfort Road, Snodland, Kent, ME6 5AH, UK
  • 7Affinity Water, Tamblin Way, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9EZ, UK
  • 8Water Quality and Public Health Team, Water Quality and Compliance Directorate, Southern Water, Southern House, Yeoman Road, Worthing, BN13 3NX, UK
  • 9Energy Lancaster, Science & Technology Building, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YF, UK

Floating solar photovoltaic installations are an emerging form of solar energy deployed on varying types of water bodies globally. Deployments have proliferated in recent years, particularly in land-scarce areas, as the drive to decarbonise the energy-mix intensifies. However, the potential ecosystem opportunities and trade-offs of floating solar photovoltaic installations remain unclear, often acting as a barrier to deployment. Exploiting floating solar photovoltaic knowledge systems, we synthesise evidence and insight from scientists and industry stakeholders, through a systematic review, international survey and workshop, to evaluate potential opportunities and threats to ecosystems. We found that reduced evaporation is the greatest perceived opportunity of floating solar, while detrimental chemical impacts, such as anoxia and internal nutrient loading, are perceived as the greatest threat. Using this knowledge, we assessed the overarching sustainability of floating solar, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. We identified that floating solar photovoltaic installations may impact on eight of the seventeen SDGs. Given the need to rapidly develop understanding, in light of the anticipated growth rates, we prioritise the knowledge gaps and improvements critical to ensuring floating solar photovoltaic installations minimise ecosystem threats and maximise opportunities, safeguarding overall sustainability.

How to cite: Exley, G., Hernandez, R. R., Page, T., Chipps, M., Gambro, S., Hersey, M., Lake, R., Zoannou, K.-S., and Armstrong, A.: Prioritising ecosystem opportunities and threats of floating solar photovoltaics, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-685,, 2021.

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