Solar Parks – clean energy & biodiversity gains: Q&A with Lancaster University


Low Carbon is proud to be industry collaborator of the Energy and Environment research team at Lancaster University. We are a CASE partner for a current Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) ENVISION PhD project and have an application pending for a second. The ENVISION Doctoral training programme is focused on developing next generation leaders in environmental science and the Lancaster team is working on a range of renewable energy – ecosystem projects. A key output to date is the new Solar Park Impacts on Ecosystem Services (SPIES) tool, a collaboration with the University of York, that informs solar park management for ecosystem services (

In addition to encouraging all Low Carbon solar park ecologists to use the SPIES tool ( to help ensure optimal site management, Low Carbon is a passionate supporter of innovation to deliver not only clean energy but also ecosystem benefits. Consequently, research and innovation collaboration with Lancaster University is critical to inform the management of our assets for environmental gains. We are also proud to play our part in building the UK’s reputation as a global leader in solar park deployment while stimulating new business and investment opportunities for the sector.


A sustainable recovery for the UK’s economy


The global response to the coronavirus crisis has caused the sharpest drop in carbon output since records began. In the UK, when the lockdown was at its most stringent back in April, carbon emissions fell by around 31%.

Whilst this is clearly good news for the environment, as governments worldwide set to work to inject life back into their economies, the focus must now turn to how these temporary gains can be built upon.


The Green Recovery and the biodiversity crisis


A guest blog authored for Low Carbon by Prof Piran White (University of York) & Dr Alona Armstrong (Lancaster University)

When we think about the Green Recovery, we tend to think about new jobs in the green industries of the future and net zero economic growth. But our focus on green growth and the climate crisis must not be at the expense of the ongoing biodiversity crisis. The UN has estimated that current rates of species extinction are now so high that food resources, pollination, clean water and other vital ecosystem services are being jeopardised as ecosystems become increasingly degraded. A low carbon future must go hand in hand with a more biodiversity-friendly one.


Recovering Energy from Waste


Reduce, reuse, recycle – we’re all familiar with the steps we must take to reduce the harmful effects of our throwaway culture and do our bit to conserve the earth’s finite resources. In short, we must all do our bit to make products last longer and recover materials or other benefits from them when they can no longer be used

However, there is also a key and often unheard of fourth ‘R’ – Recovery – which plays  an important part of a lower carbon circular economy model. Waste to energy enables energy recovery from non-recyclable waste destined for landfill – offering a steady, controllable, lower-carbon electricity supply similar to geothermal, tidal and nuclear.


Individual action on climate change


A recent report by Energy Systems Catapult concluded that if the UK is to achieve net-zero status by 2050, we must all make significant lifestyle changes. This government-funded study found that without changes in human behaviour, such as reduced animal consumption would mean that “meeting net zero before 2050 is unlikely”. Put simply, we cannot simply rely on the Government to make the necessary changes. We all must accept responsibility and play our part in the fightback against climate change – the stakes are too high.

2019 was another year in which extreme weather battered every part of the planet, which has left the climate deniers with nowhere to go. It’s hard to argue with the hurricanes, heatwaves, floods and droughts that swept the planet all year. Yet the climate war is far from over. While climate denial may have lost, there are still a number of people who feel apathetic towards climate change – believing that their individual action is pointless because it’s just one small drop in a vast ocean. We can’t all be Greta Thunberg, but here’s why we believe individual action does matter…