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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

California Canals Gain Solar Panels

Solar panels


To both conserve water and generate clean energy, Project Nexus, an innovative pilot project from the University of California-Merced, will install solar arrays over 25-foot- and 100-foot-wide canals in the Turlock Irrigation District so operators can monitor and evaluate their impact on water quality and evaporation, as well as assess maintenance and logistical issues. External Affairs Department Manager Josh Weimer says, “In today’s world and how we are operating our system, saving every possible drop of water for future beneficial use is something that we are really trying to focus on.”

In Europe, canals are lined with tree cover, while India has already started using solar panels. Project partner Solar AquaGrid, LLC, recognized the untapped opportunity to curtail evaporation and advance California’s Solar Over Canal initiative. CEO Jordan Harris states, “Research and common sense tell us that in an age of intensifying drought, it’s time to put a lid on evaporation. Our initial study revealed mounting solar panels over open canals can result in significant water, energy and cost savings when compared to ground-mounted solar systems, including added efficiency resulting from an exponential shading and cooling effect. Now is the chance to put that learning to the test.”