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

NAISS 2023/6-189


NAISS Medium Storage

Principal Investigator:

Zhengyao Lu


Lunds universitet

Start Date:


End Date:


Primary Classification:

10501: Climate Research

Secondary Classification:

10503: Geosciences, Multidisciplinary

Tertiary Classification:

10599: Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences



The medium storage (50 000 GB, 2 million files) I apply for will be used to store and post-process the model output for solar farm simulations. The main computation resources will be provided by SNIC Large Compute project S-CMIP (NAISS 2023/1-13) in which I am involved, and NAISS 2023/5-241 in which I am the PI. 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 simulations including massive solar farms across the globe. We will hypothesize “urban solar farm” scenarios, with envisioned solar farms in major cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas and Oceania, and also for Sweden. We finished desert solar farm simulations (in the Arabian Desert, Gobi Desert, Australian Desert and Great Basin Desert) during the previous months. The simulated climate and ecosystem response will be shown by comparing with a control simulation of the current climate state. 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, 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. The results will provide new scientific information to mitigate the potential damages for the wide application of solar energy.