The impacts of large-scale solar farms on global climate and terrestrial ecosystems

NAISS 2023/5-241


NAISS Medium Compute

Principal Investigator:

Zhengyao Lu


Lunds universitet

Start Date:


End Date:


Primary Classification:

10501: Climate Research

Secondary Classification:

10503: Geosciences, Multidisciplinary




The medium compute (400x1000 core-h/mon) I apply for will be used to conduct the state-of-the-art Earth system model (ESM) simulations. This project will give me the flexibility to include doctoral students and project assistants in the modelling tasks. Note that I am also involved in a SNIC Large Compute project S-CMIP (SNIC 2022/1-3) which can partly provide the computation resources I need. The relevant Medium Storage project (SNIC 2022/6-202) was granted last year and will be renewed soon. Supported by FORMAS project (2021-2024) "The impacts of large-scale solar farms on climate and terrestrial ecosystem", as well as the Crafoord Foundation project (2023-2024) "The climate and environmental impacts of large-scale solar farms in Nordic countries" as a project PI, I will carry out a set of ESM and regional climate model simulations including massive solar farms across the globe. For instance, we will hypothesize “desert solar farm” and “urban solar farm” scenarios, with envisioned solar farms in the Arabian Desert, Gobi Desert, Australian Desert and Great Basin Desert (southwest United States), and major cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas and Oceania, and also for Nordic countries. The simulated climate and ecosystem response will be shown by comparing with a control simulation of the current climate state. Additionally, we will employ regional climate model (with a much higher spatial resolution) to conduct solar farms simulations in Nordic countries for more realistic scenarios. Solar energy is a good alternative to replace fossil fuel and reduce carbon emissions for reaching the global climate mitigation goals. The applications of solar technologies are growing fast everywhere in the world. However, associated with complex atmosphere-land(vegetation) feedbacks and ocean-atmosphere feedbacks, the profound impacts on climate and terrestrial ecosystem induced by the envisioned large-scale solar farms are poorly understood. Using the advanced Earth System Model (ESM) EC-Earth (, as well as a well-established regional climate model WRF (, I will perform and analyze the numerical simulations to fill this knowledge gap and to quantify the responses in climate regime, ocean general circulation and terrestrial ecosystem induced by large-scale solar panel installations in the world and in Nordic countries. The results will provide new scientific information to mitigate the potential damages for the wide application of solar energy.