California to install solar panels over canals to fight drought, a first in the U.S.

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California will be the first state in the nation to build solar panel canopies over canals in an effort to alleviate the severe drought conditions affecting the state.

The state-funded $20 million pilot programme is known as "Project Nexus." It will consist of three sections of Turlock Irrigation District (TID) canals in Central California covered by around 8,500 feet of solar panels. It is anticipated to start construction this fall and finish by 2023. In February, the project was originally introduced.

The concept, according to TID, attempts to combine water and energy management. The initiative aims to enhance the production of renewable energy while decreasing water evaporation and canal vegetation development.

According to TID, the initiative will also act as "proof of concept" for additional research into "solar over canal design." The agency cites a 2021 University of California, Merced study that demonstrated that covering all of the roughly 4,000 miles of public water delivery system infrastructure in the state with solar panels could result in significant energy and cost savings in addition to an estimated 63 billion gallons of water saved annually.

TID stated on its website that the 13 gigawatts of solar energy that the panels would produce annually would be equivalent to around one-sixth of the state's existing installed capacity.

According to TID, the project will also help fulfil California Governor Gavin Newsom's mandate that by 2030, 60% of the state's electricity will come from renewable sources.

California has adopted a number of actions to counteract the state's drought conditions and the effects of climate change. Ait advanced its goal to stop selling new gas-powered cars by 2035 on Friday. Government representatives said this week that California would get $310 million in federal assistance to help with the drought.

Even the drought-resistant agave plant, which is typically produced in Mexico, is being grown by farmers in Northern California.

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