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Inside Clean Energy: In dry California, the project aims to save water and produce renewable energy

Projects near Modesto, California have two benefits: saving water and generating renewable energy.

Tarlock Irrigation District Announced this month Working with Bay Area startup Solar AquaGrid to build a solar canal on part of the district’s canal system.

A series of canals cover more than a mile of canals and will be online by 2024 with solar panels with a capacity of approximately 5 MW. By blocking the sun, the structure reduces evaporation and leaves more water for customers in the district. And the estimated cost of $ 20 million has been taken up by the state government.

This is the first demonstration project by Solar AquaGrid, a company that believes it could install similar canals on canals thousands of miles in California and elsewhere.

The company’s CEO, Jordan Harris, said the idea for Solar AquaGrid came from him noting that the canals in California were often exposed to direct sunlight, while the canals in France were often covered with canals.

Before we move on, let’s talk a little more about Harris. He is not well known in the energy industry, but has been in the spotlight for decades in the recording industry. He is a top executive at several record companies and co-founded Virgin Records America in 1986. Label artists included Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, and Lenny Kravitz. He also co-founded Rock the Vote in 1990, a campaign to get young people involved in the political process.

He was an advocate of the environment while in the record industry and now spends most of his time focusing on ventures related to the environment and clean energy. In 2005 he co-founded OZOcar, Car service with driver using eco-friendly car. He co-founded Solar AquaGrid in 2015.

“Given the situation we are experiencing on this planet, we seem to need some bold moves,” Harris said.

I’ve written before about promoting the construction of floating solar arrays that can generate electricity while reducing evaporation from reservoirs. Unlike solar canopies, the panels are suspended above the water rather than floating, allowing water to flow down. And solar canopies are much less common than floating solar arrays.

Some of the only examples of solar canopies are in India where the developers have completed the project at Gujarat When Punjab..

Harris said the Solar Aquagrid carefully observed the Gujarat project and spoke with the people who built it. He and his colleagues saw how heavy the project’s steel truss design was and restricted access to the canal. Based on this, the Tarlock project uses a design with suspension cables that are lighter than trusses and have easy access to the canal.

To show the potential of the solar canopy, Solar Aquagrid sponsored a study by the University of California, Merced. this is, Peer-reviewed papers The economic savings from reducing evaporation from the canal, published last year in the journal Nature Sustainability, show that it is sufficient to cover the cost of the canal and that there are additional benefits of producing renewable energy. increase.

Water savings, in percentage terms, are in the low single digits of total water flowing through California’s irrigation system, but are sufficient in states where water demand far exceeds supply, Roger Bales said. I am saying. He is an engineering professor at UC Merced and a co-author of this paper.

“It’s important where we make solar and how we do it,” he said. “Like installing solar on the roof instead of the backyard, instead of removing farmland from production or using natural land of biodiversity and ecosystem value, parking lots, canals, etc. I prefer to install the solar on top of other infrastructure. “

The Tarlock Irrigation District is a community-owned non-profit organization that provides electricity and water to most rural areas, including the city of Tarlock and parts of Modesto. Farmers in the district rely on irrigation services to be able to grow their crops.

Once this solar canopy project is built, Solar AquaGrid and academic researchers will find a better understanding of costs and benefits and the best way to communicate about them.

“Let’s start developing new math and new models on how to evaluate these systems,” said Citizen Group, another co-founder of Solar AquaGrid and a marketing and branding company. Robin Raj says.

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He was drawn to the idea of ​​solar canopies because of the dual benefits of saving water and producing renewable energy.

This project goes into the larger idea of ​​water-energy connections, which refers to many ways in which water-energy systems are interdependent. Thermal power plants such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power require large amounts of water to operate, while systems that process and supply water require large amounts of electricity to operate.

I am following this project and looking for other projects that connect water saving and energy saving.


Another story about energy shifts to watch this week:

Contractors and professionals will consider the hurdles for electrifying a home. As the move to stop using natural gas and fully electrify homes, contractors and customers are asked about costs, how to meet rising electricity demand, and how to get equipment that may not be readily available. I have some practical concerns. One of the big problems is that many residential electrical panels are not configured to handle the higher amperage often needed to run on electricity alone. On the other hand, contractors who propose to replace gas furnaces can often do it faster and at a lower initial cost. Jeff St. John reports to Canala Media.. But the hassle of using all the electricity is often worth it. Over time, all-electric homes will have lower costs and better air quality.

Offshore wind is on track to reach Biden’s 30GW target by 2030. Two reports published this month show that the US offshore wind industry is ready for rapid growth. S & P Global Market Intelligence reports that developers have announced a 30.7 GW offshore wind project. The trading group Offshore Wind Business Network reports that the 17.5GW project has already raised funds, but New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts will lead to more than 45GW development by 2040. There is a law. According to reports, the Biden administration’s goal of building 30 gigawatts by 2030 is achievable: Emma Penrod reports on utility dive..

EV maker Polestar wants to produce a car that is truly climate-neutral. Sweden-based electric vehicle manufacturer Polestar has announced an agreement with a parts supplier that is part of an attempt to use only components manufactured in a process with zero carbon emissions or emissions that can be offset in some way. did. The company states that its goal is to create truly climate-neutral vehicles. Bloomberg Green Rafaela Lindeberg Report.. “We are leveraging innovation and collaboration to address the climate crisis,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenras said in his statement.

High-tech twist of the old process has the potential to clean up steel and cement manufacturing: Start-ups are developing “heat batteries” that could be used by industrial companies to provide the high heat used in the production of steel and cement. Based in California, Rondo Energy is developing a system that uses renewable energy to heat bricks similar to those used in blast furnaces. “Because it’s simple and boring [the technology] As economics drives it and attacks big problems, it can be very large, “said John O’Donnell, CEO of the company. Interview with Justine Calma of The Verge.. If this technology works, it will give businesses the option to replace current processes by burning coal and other fossil fuels.

ICN reporter Julie Margoline contributed to this story.

Inside clean energy ICN’s weekly magazine on news and analysis of energy conversion. Send news tips and questions to dan.gearino@insideclimatenews.org.

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24022022/inside-clean-energy-california-solar-canopies/ Inside Clean Energy: In dry California, the project aims to save water and produce renewable energy

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