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In California, solar panels are to be put over the state's irrigation canals in order to fight the drought. This project took inspiration from a research paper released in 2021 where scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz figured out that putting panels over water could save 63.5 billion gallons of water from evaporating thanks to the shade.
Two pilot canal projects are being prepared by Turlock Irrigation District Water and Power. The first one is a 500-foot (152 meter) long curved canal section near the town of Hickman and the other a second mile-long (1.6 kilometers) long straight part in nearby Ceres.
This project is called Nexus and they are planning to start the work in October with a funding of $20 million from the state’s office. There are many benefits with this project besides just preventing evaporation. The need for land clearance for solar farms will be reduced, green energy output will be boosted as well as giving the solar panels a longer life since the river beneath it keeps its underside cooler.
In California, there are around 4 000 miles of canals and with the solar panels added, they can produce about 13 gigawatts of power which could cover almost half of Los Angeles (750 000 homes).
“It’s really exciting to test our hypothesis and the paper we published. We’ll have an opportunity to really understand if those benefits pencil out in the real world,” Brandi McKuin, one of the lead investigators at UC Santa Cruz, told Reuters.
Picture: Rendering, Solar AquaGrid via Good News Network