June 4, 2023

The Golden State will become the first in the nation to install solar panel canopies on its canals in an effort to combat the devastating drought conditions that have hit California.

The state-funded $20 million pilot project is called “Link Program.” It will consist of an estimated 8,500 feet of solar panels installed on three sections of the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Canal in central California. It is expected to break ground in the fall and be completed in 2023. The project was first announced to return to February.

Conceptual image of the 110-foot wide TID main canal span with solar panels.

Turlock Irrigation District

According to TID, the project aims to use both water and energy management. The project aims to increase renewable energy generation while reducing water evaporation and plant growth in the canal.

The project will also serve as a “proof-of-concept” for further research into “solar canal designs,” TID said.The agency cites a 2021 UC Merced Researchwhich shows that covering approximately 4,000 miles of the state’s public water system infrastructure with solar panels could save approximately 63 billion gallons of water annually and provide significant energy and cost savings.

“According to this study, the 13 gigawatts of solar energy generated annually by solar panels would be equivalent to one-sixth of the state’s current installed capacity,” TID wrote on its website.

Concept map of the Ceres Innovation Center, including solar energy on the TID Canal and the future Ceres conditioning reservoir.


TID also said the project would also support California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for 60 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.

California has taken several steps to combat drought conditions and climate change affecting the state. on Friday, Ait advances plan to ban sales of new petrol-powered cars by 2035. Last week, officials announced that California would receive $310 million in federal funding to cope with drought.

Farmers in Northern California are even planting Drought Resistant Plant Agavetraditionally grown in Mexico.

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