Solar on American canals is getting closer to reality – pv magazine International
Project Nexus plans to inaugurate a canal-top solar project in the fall, with completion expected by the end of 2023.
From pv magazine USA
In February, photo magazine reported on Project Nexus, which planned to install solar panels on California’s canals. Now that this project is about to go ahead, the inauguration is scheduled for the fall.
The Turlock Irrigation District (TID) is in partnership with the Department of Water Resource (DWR), Solar AquaGrid and the University of California, Merced in the project funded by the State of California. The project will include energy storage to investigate how storage facilities can support the local power grid when solar generation is reduced due to cloud cover.
The concept of solar power on California canals grew out of a 2021 study conducted at the University of California, Merced and the University of Santa Cruz, which showed that covering the roughly 4,000 miles of infrastructure California’s public water system with solar panels can generate 13 GW of power per year, about one-sixth of the state’s current installed capacity and about half of the projected new capacity needed to reach the state goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
“Solar canals are an example of an energy-water nexus that offers multiple sustainability benefits. Using water channels for solar infrastructure conserves water while generating renewable electricity and avoids converting large tracts of land to solar development,” said Dr. Brandi L. McKuin, l lead author of the study.
The study suggests that 63 billion gallons of water could be saved each year by lining the canals, which is enough to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the water needs of more than 2 million residents. The project will show how channel capping reduces evaporation, potentially improving water quality and reducing vegetative growth.
“Research and common sense tell us that at a time of intensifying drought, it’s time to put the brakes on evaporation,” said Jordan Harris, CEO of Solar AquaGrid. “Our initial study found that mounting solar panels on open channels can result in significant water, energy, and cost savings over ground-mounted solar systems, including increased efficiency resulting from a shading effect/exponential cooling Now is the time to put this learning to the test.
In addition to studying energy production on the canals as well as benefits to water levels and quality, the project offers the opportunity to study a variety of solar panels and inverters to see how they work when installed above or near water. Various forms of energy storage will also be investigated.
The Nexus project is expected to be completed in 2024 at multiple locations within the TID service territory.
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