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Wind farm and solar park effects on plant–soil carbon cycling: uncertain impacts of changes in ground-level microclimate

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2014
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Journal number6
Volume20
Number of pages8
Pages1699-1706
Early online date28/03/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Global energy demand is increasing as greenhouse gas driven climate change progresses, making renewable energy sources critical to future sustainable power provision. Land-based wind and solar electricity generation technologies are rapidly expanding, yet our understanding of their operational effects on biological carbon cycling in hosting ecosystems is limited. Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels can significantly change local ground-level climate by a magnitude that could affect the fundamental plant–soil processes that govern carbon dynamics. We believe that understanding the possible effects of changes in ground-level microclimates on these phenomena is crucial to reducing uncertainty of the true renewable energy carbon cost and to maximize beneficial effects. In this Opinions article, we examine the potential for the microclimatic effects of these land-based renewable energy sources to alter plant–soil carbon cycling, hypothesize likely effects and identify critical knowledge gaps for future carbon research.

Bibliographic note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.