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California Eyeing Huge Water Savings As Evaporation is Slowed By Solar Panels Built Over Canals, As in India


In an interview with Joe Rogan, famous astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson explained that we already have flying cars as tunnels and flyovers allow cars to access the third dimension.

According to this logic, first in India and now in California, we have invented “flying solar panels”, since they are being built suspended over irrigation canals. It’s a smart way to reduce habitat loss due to panel space and evaporation, as the shade they provide shields vital water droplets from the evaporating heat of the sun.

With the world’s largest irrigation canal network and years that can reach 290 days of sunshine, California is uniquely positioned to exploit this emerging innovation of canal-covering solar farms.

Rendering / Solar AquaGrid

UC Santa Cruz is investigating this method as a potential solar power generator that would save 63.5 billion gallons of water through evaporation annually, a windfall for a state that sometimes rationes water and regularly suffers from droughts.

However the the story begins in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2014, when a pilot project covering 750 meters of canal space led to the creation from a complete solar plant on top of a canal in the Vadodara district, and another for a total of 100 megawatts facing the Narmada River.

Researchers from India found that the water running underneath the panels cooled them down and prevented them from overheating, resulting in an average increase in efficiency of between 2% and 5%.

MORE: California, rich in solar energy, reaches 95% renewable energy on a recent day in 80 percent of the state

Brandi McKuin and her UCSC colleagues wanted to model the pros and cons of covering Golden State’s more than 6,000 kilometers of canals in solar panels, including using three separate techniques to measure water loss in different areas through the evaporation, and which construction method would be the most efficient at scale. Your results published in Sustainability of nature model a sunny future.

Covering an average of 100 feet, it was found that California’s canals, when extended with solar panels, would save more than 63 billion gallons of water a year, and that the cost savings from conserving water avoided the costs of land, aquatic weed maintenance, and improved electricity production outweighed the higher cost of building the more complex array. The most valuable conducive construction method was with steel cables.

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In addition, the state uses diesel-powered water pumps to drive the flow of the canals, which could be replaced by a sum of 15-20 generators per megawatt of solar power. Lastly, the reduction in land use means that California’s biodiverse drylands could remain in possession of native wildlife or, depending on the ZIP code, purchased for meat production or agriculture, adding jobs to local economies. and increasing the food supply.

Roger Bales, co-author of the article, put it simply: saying, “This study is a very important step to encourage investments to produce renewable energy and, at the same time, save water.

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