‌‌Tapas Mallick and Robbie McDonald

Interdisciplinary research

Professor Tapas Mallick and Professor Robbie McDonald share an interest in identifying win-wins for cost effective management and biodiversity enhancement of solar parks.

Professor Tapas Mallick leads solar energy activities within the Environment and Sustainability Institute. Alongside his research team, he is currently developing an innovative and highly efficient, semi-transparent photovoltaic solar panel.

Professor Robbie McDonald is interested in wildlife ecology and in resolving human-wildlife conflict. His current research projects are varied, ranging from the science, policy and practical implications of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in badgers to the impacts and management of invasive species.

In recent years, planning permission for hundreds of ground-based solar parks has been granted with many awaiting construction. Commercial operators require solar parks which are secure and where vegetation can be prevented from shading panels, while regulators require that negative impacts on the environment are minimised and/or mitigated. Such needs may appear to be in conflict.

Robbie and Tapas are combining their interests and expertise to explore win-win practices for the cost effective management and biodiversity enhancement of solar parks, and to provide guidance to commercial operators and regulators. Their research will include determining current best practice and creating a demonstration project to show how cost effective site management options could address the need for reducing shade and maintaining security of solar parks while increasing biodiversity.

“It will be great for us to work with companies to develop win-wins, where operational efficiency is increased, costs are equivalent, or even reduced, but biodiversity can be enhanced. The Environment and Sustainability Institute’s unique interdisciplinary approach means that ecologists sit alongside engineers, sitting alongside a business liaison team, all designed to enhance the impact of our research.”

Professor Robbie McDonald, Chair in Natural Environment