Saturday, April 1

Project Nexus: why is California covering canals with solar panels? | Digital Trends Spanish

In California, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) is about to start a project to cover two sections of the irrigation canals that supply water to the state with solar panels. The ambitious plan, known as Project Nexuswould generate not only electrical energy to supply some 100,000 homes in Stanislao County, but also to prove that the panels can be a functional alternative to prevent the evaporation of water from the canals.

The whole idea is based on a study published in 2021 by the journal Nature Sustainabilitywhich roughly indicates that covering with solar panels the 4,000 miles (almost 6,500 kilometers) of canals that supply California with water would generate about 13 gigawatts of electrical energy, enough to supply a sixth of the energy needs of the state.

But why put solar panels on an irrigation canal and not on a large piece of land? According to experts, doing so would prevent the loss of about 63 billion gallons of water a year. The figure, which is not less, would allow supplying the water needs for cultivation of some 50,000 acres of arable land. In context, California has 9 million acres of farmland. Yes, it is true that 50,000 acres is a small fraction of the land used for agriculture, but because California uses about 38 billion gallons of water a dayany savings add up.

a first step

California will launch a project to cover irrigation canals with solar panels.

The TID is scheduled to start covering the stretches with solar panels in the fall of this year. And although construction could last until 2024, he considers that the Nexus Project would serve as a “proof of concept” on the operation of the panels, and above all, the installation and maintenance costs.

For now, the Turlock Irrigation District has a $20 million investment to begin covering the canals with solar panels. And with solar technology improving to the point where it’s possible create photovoltaic materials on very compact surfaces, the only thing left to ask is what will be the next place that we will see covered with solar panels?

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