California is spending $20M to install solar panels over 1.6 miles of canals

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,453   +171
Staff member
In brief: California is set to become the first state in the nation to install solar panel canopies over canals in an effort to combat drought conditions. The pilot, dubbed Project Nexus, will involve the installation of an estimated 8,500 feet of solar panels over three sections of canals in the Turlock Irrigation District (TID). The sections vary in orientation and width, ranging from 20 feet across at the narrowest parts to around 100 feet at the widest.

The proof of concept is intended to increase renewable power generation and reduce water evaporation in canals. TID, in partnership with the state of California, the University of California Merced and development firm Solar AquaGrid, also expects to experience water quality improvements and lower maintenance costs through reduced vegetative growth in the covered canals.

The state also said putting panels over water instead of land can help keep them cooler by making them more efficient. It could additionally save permitting time and free up land for other uses.

TID cited a 2021 study from UC Merced (the aforementioned Project Nexus partner) that suggested covering 4,000 miles of public water delivery system infrastructure in California with solar panels could save up to 63 billion gallons of water annually. According to the study, that is enough to meet the residential water needs of more than two million people or irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland.

The estimated 13 gigawatts of solar power the theoretical panels would generate each year would equal about one sixth of the state's current solar capacity, the study further noted.

TID in its FAQ for Project Nexus said the amount of evaporation savings expected is currently unknown.

Project Nexus is being funded by the state of California at a cost of $20 million. That is rather expensive for 8,500 feet of solar panels that will cover 1.6 miles of the estimated 4,000 miles of public waterways in the state.

Construction is expected to get started this fall and wrap up by the end of 2023.

Permalink to story.

 

RedGuard

Posts: 127   +128
Twenty millions per 2.57 kilometers? That's $7800 per meter. At the cost of $300 per solar panel, that'll be 25 solar panels across the canal. Given that a solar panel is roughly 1 meter per 2 meters, that'll be 50 meters across/the width of the canal.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
Twenty millions per 2.57 kilometers? That's $7800 per meter.
It's typical California backwards thinking. The primary impetus for this is the water savings-- but they could accomplish that with plain plastic tarp for less than 1/10,000 the cost. As for the secondary benefit of generating electricity, spreading the panels out over thousands of kilometers of canals (as per the full implementation) would waste nearly all the energy generated in transmission losses.
 

umbala

Posts: 778   +1,524
It's typical California backwards thinking.
So in other words, you're not from California. It's funny how everyone who is NOT from there loves to hate on California. Did you even read the article? It's a pilot project to see what kind of benefits it will have (if any). But hey, let's just hate on them before the first panel is even put down.

As for the secondary benefit of generating electricity, spreading the panels out over thousands of kilometers of canals (as per the full implementation) would waste nearly all the energy generated in transmission losses.
Umm yeah, that's not how electricity works. Perhaps try Googling how the grid works and how electricity propagates along power lines.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,264   +1,985
TechSpot Elite
Why don't you tell us which state you're from so we can make some snide remarks about YOUR state?

California has been radical for decades my friend. It's the butt end of many (and all financial/political) jokes for very consistent, documented, and repeated reasons.

Try not too get too offended... I'm sure you're stressed out enough over the local lack of water, taxes, cost of goods, and homelessness.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
It's a pilot project to see what kind of benefits it will have (if any).
By that logic, you should hold a pilot project to discover the benefits of filling your home with pig manure to generate free methane. Some projects don't need to be built to be rejected.

Umm yeah, that's not how electricity works. Perhaps try Googling how the grid works and how electricity propagates along power lines.
That is exactly how it works. Electricity losses on a primary (non-HVDC) high-tension power line run around 7% per 100 miles ... but this project would not be able to use those. At best, they'd use an 11-25kV line, which loses several percent per mile. And these transmission-loss figures don't count the distribution losses from the many tens of thousands of small (and thus inefficient) step-up transformers that would be required.
 

Scott Barnes

Posts: 33   +48
So in other words, you're not from California. It's funny how everyone who is NOT from there loves to hate on California. Did you even read the article? It's a pilot project to see what kind of benefits it will have (if any). But hey, let's just hate on them before the first panel is even put down.


Umm yeah, that's not how electricity works. Perhaps try Googling how the grid works and how electricity propagates along power lines.

Transmission line losses are generally cited as the single largest source of loss in any electrical grid regardless of environment, barring of course downtime due to maintenance or failure related shutdowns. This stuck out to me personally as my father is a retired electrical engineer and I grew up in a household where conversation regularly involved discussion about the upkeep, maintenance and structure of the grid in my home province of Newfoundland.

http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2010/ph240/harting1/

Location of generation capacity within a grid is very important as there are always transport costs whether it's a liquid hydrocarbon transporter moving along the highway or electrons along a wire.

California has historically made some truly great choices infrastructure wise such as the California University initiative as well as development of Nuclear generation in the 60's and 70's. However the last several decades have been absurd regarding the return on investment of public works projects and the obvious graft that is taking place.

High speed rail has been an unmitigated disaster:
https://www.latimes.com/california/...ornia-high-speed-rail-faces-new-cost-overruns

Absurd costs of housing the homeless:
https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/la-spending-837000-house-single-homeless-person-83072411

All of these costs are more than an order of magnitude higher than they should be, long story short your heads of state are stealing from you and you continue to tolerate it. It is not a left of right issue it is a general public being fleeced by the crooked officials issue. They will keep coming up with honey dipped lies about how environmentally responsible it is or how it's necessary to protect jobs or some other partisan nonsense but at the end of the day it's just another line by some self interested piece of garbage trying to get reelected.

Michael Shellenberger just ran on a platform of clearing the graft and bullshit out of California and got trounced by the partisan shills because folks are simply too slothful to take the time to really look into the issue present in their state. You could have had real solutions in California but that would have required an actual investment of time and personal responsibility which is simply a bridge too far for most voters.
 

Scott Barnes

Posts: 33   +48
HAHAH look at those liberals in California! Aren't they the worst with budgets? OH WAIT

https://www.cbsnews.com/sanfrancisco/news/california-record-budget-surplus-97-5-billion/
The third sentence of that article is as follows: "The state has collected $55 billion more in taxes than officials expected in January, leaving it with an estimated $97.5 billion surplus."

Basically the state spent wildly more money than ever before and then offset it by simply hiking taxes to an already struggling middle class. That is effectively the opposite of proper accounting. This type of behavior happens all across the US as well as other countries regardless of whether the politicians are left, right or some other cardinal affiliation. I would love to see these folks represent these increased taxes with actual infrastructure development but that is rather unlikely.
 

nnguy2

Posts: 590   +1,315
The third sentence of that article is as follows: "The state has collected $55 billion more in taxes than officials expected in January, leaving it with an estimated $97.5 billion surplus."

Basically the state spent wildly more money than ever before and then offset it by simply hiking taxes to an already struggling middle class. That is effectively the opposite of proper accounting.

They were already expecting $42 billion surplus even with all the "wild spending".
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,838   +1,909
HAHAH look at those liberals in California! Aren't they the worst with budgets? OH WAIT

Report: California's unfunded pension liabilities total $1.5 trillion, the largest by far in the nation, three times the size of the next largest state.

Also:

"...The California Public Employees Retirement System has scarcely two-thirds of the money it needs to pay benefits that state and local governments have promised their workers.

Worse, CalPERS’ official estimate is based on an assumption of future investment earnings averaging 7% a year, which probably is at least one or two percentage points too high. In the 2019-20 fiscal year that ended June 30, CalPERS posted a 4.7% return and over the last 20 years it has averaged 5.5% by its own calculation..."
 

Scott Barnes

Posts: 33   +48
Report: California's unfunded pension liabilities total $1.5 trillion, the largest by far in the nation, three times the size of the next largest state.

Also:

"...The California Public Employees Retirement System has scarcely two-thirds of the money it needs to pay benefits that state and local governments have promised their workers.

Worse, CalPERS’ official estimate is based on an assumption of future investment earnings averaging 7% a year, which probably is at least one or two percentage points too high. In the 2019-20 fiscal year that ended June 30, CalPERS posted a 4.7% return and over the last 20 years it has averaged 5.5% by its own calculation..."
And that's the other shoe hitting the floor...

Here at home in Canada I've been telling friends and family for over a decade that CPP (Canadian pension plan) will most likely not exist in the next 20 years or so and that they REALLY NEED to have a robust portfolio to retire upon due to how ridiculous inflation is going to be over the next couple of decades.
 

Scott Barnes

Posts: 33   +48
So you're saying they should spend all that surplus. Yet here you are criticizing they for spending.
What I'm saying is that their entire purpose for being there is to manage the finances and expenditures of the state in the most efficient manner possible. Basically they need to actually put in the work to develop a reasonable fiscal plan that actually values the tax payers dollars and come in as close to on budget as possible consistently. There are always going to be unforeseen cost when running a state as complex as California (still the worlds 5th largest economy by raw GDP I think though that may have shifted).

As it stands they aren't even trying to fake it, these folks aren't only fleecing the tax payer they're glib about it!

Again, this happens everywhere in the western world and it isn't acceptable anywhere, if you want an example of this from my home province look no further than the Muskrat Falls hydro electric development. Whether it is California or the *** end of nowhere politically enabled graft is unacceptable.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,305   +952
Over $10 million per mile. Jesus. just sounds like California found new ways to lose even more water.

You do know covered man made water channels is not new tech - it goes back 1000s of years .

Theinsanegamer dehydarted in the hot mojove sun - option to sit under solar panels - extracting energy or in the sun collecting that sweet Vitamin D - what will he/she do ?- she/he doesn't want to evaporate now.

Even given teething problems - Humans are smart - do you think they will not think of what is the best backing to even use some of the electricity , or heat generated to find a way to protect water .

 

Watzupken

Posts: 696   +585
This in my opinion is one of the major sources of global warming. Looking at the picture, adding more and more dark surface of earth is just going to suck in more heat from the sun. In fact, if you look around, solar panels are being installed on roofs, deserts, reservoirs, replacing plants in forested areas, etc, where naturally they heat up, but not to the extend of the dark surface solar panels. Anyone who owns solar panels should know how hot they get under strong sunlight. So how can the earth not heat up more and more when the heat gets absorb and don’t go back to space? It’s funny at one point, people are worried that the melting ice means less white surface to reflect heat back to space. Suddenly, that became a secondary concern and people start doing the opposite, ie, adding black or very dark surface aggressively.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 823   +823
Why don't you tell us which state you're from so we can make some snide remarks about YOUR state?
Michigan. I am glad you recognize snide because it truly was that. Thing is truth should not make people angry unless they are deniers. California could be great and a leader but I find it foolish.