Solar panels that throw shade on canals are an environmental win–win : Research Highlights

Renewable energy

March 23, 2021

Placing solar panels over canals would prevent water loss and improve the panels’ energy harvest.

Covering the channels with solar panels allows the panels to work more efficiently – and the shade prevents the water in the channels from being lost through evaporation.

Most solar panels are on the ground or on roofs. However, some researchers have explored options such as: B. attaching floating panels to reservoirs to reduce water loss.

Brandi McKuin of the University of California at Merced, Elliott Campbell of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and their colleagues analyzed the economic and financial impact of placing solar panels on the 6,350 kilometers of California canals. These canals carry water from mountains and reservoirs to agricultural fields and communities downstream.

Covering the canals with solar panels would prevent around 40,000 cubic meters of water – 16 Olympic swimming pools – from evaporating from every kilometer of the canal every year. The panels would also perform better than on land due to the cooler microclimate over the water.

The benefits outweigh the cost of building the panels over the ducts, the team said.

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