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Prof Nicola Pearsall

Professor of Renewable Energy

Department: Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Prof Nicola Pearsall is a lecturer and researcher in the field of renewable energy at Nothurmbria University. She is also director of the Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre and leader of the Energy Systems research group.

Nicola -PearsallProfessor Pearsall undertakes research and teaching in the field of renewable energy, specialising in photovoltaics (the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity). She is also the director of the Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre and leader of the Energy Systems research group.

Nicola graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology with an honours degree in Physics, before gaining her PhD in the area of indium phosphide solar cells for space applications from Cranfield Institute of Technology. She joined the University in 1989 whilst completing her PhD and has held a variety of research and teaching positions, before being awarded the title of Professor in 2004.

0191 227 4595


BSc Hons, PhD, MInstP, CPhys, MIEEE

Talking Point

As well as her own research interests, Nicola is active in the development of research strategy within Europe. She is the chair of the working group on science, technology and applications of the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform and is currently the UK representative for the Solar Europe Industry Initiative.

The European Photovoltaic Technology Platform is a forum for all stakeholders in the photovoltaic community and a body that aims to realise the vision of a major contribution from PV to our energy requirements in Europe. Nicola has been a member of the Steering Committee and WG3 (Science, Technology and Applications) since the inception of the Platform and, in early 2010, she took over as leader of WG3. In September 2011, the group published the second edition of the Strategic Research Agenda for Photovoltaics, which sets out the short and long term R&D requirements for the technology. The Solar Europe Industry Initiative was launched by the European Commission in the spring of 2010 and, as part of the SET Plan for Europe, aims to maximise the contribution of solar energy to Europe’s 2020 targets. Nicola currently represents the UK on the SEII Team.

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Nicola’s current research interests are in the optimisation of the performance of PV systems for a wide range of applications and the assessment of the environmental impact of manufacture of solar cells.

In over 25 years of experience in research on photovoltaics, Nicola has worked in the areas of photovoltaic systems, solar cell device development, techno-economic assessments of photovoltaic technology and environmental impact assessment of energy technologies. One of her main research areas is the performance assessment of PV system operation and the comparison with system design aspects. She led the sub-project on PV system performance assessment in the EC FP6 Integrated Project PERFORMANCE, including the development of updated European guidelines on PV system monitoring. She has also been involved in several projects involving performance analysis for building integrated PV systems and has a current EPSRC funded project on mapping PV system performance as part of a UK-India consortium (STAPP – Stability and Performance of Photovoltaics). She is also engaged in environmental impact assessment of PV technology via the EC funded project PEPPER, led by Oerlikon Solar and involving a range of industrial and research partners in Europe. In collaboration with colleagues in the University, she is also involved with studies on the integration of renewable energy systems into the electrical supply network and into the built environment.

Sponsors and Collaborators

Nicola has worked with many of the leading European research centres in solar energy, including the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg, Germany), the EC Joint Research  Centre (Ispra, Italy) and the Helmholz Zentrum Berlin (Germany). She is currently working on an EPSRC project led by Loughborough University and an EC FP7 project led by Oerlikon Solar from Switzerland.

Most major projects within the Energy Systems research group are collaborative in nature, allowing a mix of expertise from academia and industry. Nicola has collaborated with a wide range of partners from the UK (including BRE, EMC, Imperial College, IT Power, Loughborough University, Manchester University, Sheffield University, Strathclyde University) and Europe (Ciemat, EC Joint Research Centre – Ispra, ECN, EPIA, EPFL, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, HZB, IMEC, INES, IZT, Linde, Meteonorm, Oerlikon Solar, Phoenix Solar, Saint-Gobain Recerche, TUV Rheinland, Wroclaw University, ZSW).

Key Publications

A full list of Professor Pearsall's publications can be found on Northumbria Research Link (NRL).


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