The plan, dubbed Project Nexus, is expected to break ground in 2023 and become operational in 2024, bringing 8,500 feet of solar panels to Turlock’s canals.
Next year starts an ambitious solar panel project that, if successful, could see thousands of miles of panels installed above California’s irrigation canals. The plan, The plan, dubbed Project Nexus, is expected to break ground in 2023 and become operational in 2024, bringing 8,500 feet of solar panels to Turlock’s canals in the Central Valley. One study from researchers at the University of California at Merced, a partner on the project, suggests that the panels could not only generate substantial power if scaled up but also alleviate some drought concerns by preventing some water loss.
Experts I’ve spoken with about the drought in the West believe that so-called solar canals are not the end-all be-all for conservation and certainly won’t prevent aridification from continuing. The project does address important environmental goals, such as California’s net-zero promise to reach zero emissions by 2045. Researchers believe that, were solar canals to encompass the entire 4,000 miles of canals and aqueducts spanning the state, those panels would be able to generate 13 gigawatts of power.