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Dr Fabio Carvalho G Da Silva

Senior Research Associate

Fabio Carvalho G Da Silva

LEC Building

LA1 4YQ

Lancaster

Research overview

My current research focuses on the impact of land use change for solar farm development on stocks of natural capital (e.g., soil, biodiversity) and services provided by functioning ecosystems (e.g., biomass production, nutrient cycling, soil carbon storage).

I am currently investigating the impact of ground-mounted solar farms in the UK on hosting ecosystems and how this affects the potential carbon emission savings to be realised by developing solar farms. I am delivering this research as an Associate within a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Lancaster University and Clarkson & Woods Ecological Consultants, with the ultimate aim of devising a long-term consultancy service focusing on a natural capital valuation approach to help the UK solar energy sector minimise their impact on the land and deliver net environmental gains from land use change for large-scale solar energy deployment.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a UK-wide programme that has been helping businesses for the past 40 years to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base. KTPs are designed to connect forward thinking businesses with the UK's world class knowledge bases (e.g., academic institutions) to deliver business-led innovation projects.

This work has allowed me to extensively survey solar farms in England and Wales, produce site-specific reports for solar farm operators and collate national-level data for publication and dissemination by various means (e.g., academic peer-reviewed journals, online webinars, industry-based trade shows, scientific conferences).

I am gaining great insight into the UK solar energy sector and working on the interface between academia and the private sector, as well as learning to produce pertinent deliverables to industry, academia and policymakers through an ongoing collaboration with Solar Energy UK, a UK-based trade association representing the solar energy industry in this country. For instance, I have contributed towards a natural capital best practice guidance [link] and a standardised biodiversity monitoring methodology [link] aimed at the UK solar energy sector to facilitate routine land assessments and the collection of environmental data within solar farms at the national level.

In the past, I used plant functional traits to understand the expected trade-offs between exploitative and conservative life strategies among species and examine how they scale-up to affect ecosystem processes and services. I have applied a functional approach to plant ecology using wetland and grassland ecosystems in the UK and agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystems in the Mediterranean region in southern Europe (i.e., the montado ecosystem in Portugal).

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