The state of California has approved plans to build a solar panel-covered network of canals to combat drought conditions. The project will generate a significant amount of electricity from renewable sources, which could save energy costs for residents and businesses in the state.
Known as “Project Nexus,” the $20 million state-funded pilot project will cover three sections of Turlock Irrigation District (TID) canals in Central California with an estimated 8,500 feet of solar panels. By 2023, installation should start, and it should be finished by 2024.
The project was started by Solar AquaGrid, a Bay Area development company that specializes on cutting-edge answers to problems with water and energy. It was initially disclosed in February. They have joined forces with TID and the Citizen Group organization to launch Project Nexus.
The concept, according to TID, attempts to combine water and energy management. The initiative aims to enhance the production of renewable energy while decreasing water evaporation and canal vegetation development.
TID cites a 2021 University of California, Merced study that showed that covering all of the roughly 4,000 miles of public water delivery system infrastructure in the state with solar panels could save an estimated 63 billion gallons of water annually, as well as a result in significant energy and cost savings. The agency states that the project will also serve as a “proof of concept” to further study “solar over canal design.”
According to TID, the project will also help fulfill California Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandate that by 2030, 60% of the state’s power would come from renewable sources.
California has adopted a number of actions to counteract the state’s drought conditions and the effects of climate change. Ait advanced its goal to stop selling new gas-powered cars by 2035 on Friday. Government representatives said this week that California will get $310 million in federal assistance to help with the drought.
Even the drought-resistant agave plant, which is typically produced in Mexico, is being grown by farmers in Northern California. The 13 gigawatts of solar energy that the panels would produce annually, per the report, “would be equivalent to roughly one-sixth of the state’s existing installed capacity.”
Solar panels over canals is a great idea and something that we hope will become more common in the future. It’s a step in the right direction towards the solar revolution, and we hope to see more of this kind of innovation in the future.