Research claims that installing solar panels over California's extensive canals could greatly expand the state's renewable energy production and reduce evaporation.
A new study published in Nature Sustainability outlines the potential benefits of covering California's canals with solar panels, reports Matt Simon in High Country News. The study's results show that installing solar panels over 4,000 miles of California's waterways "would save 63 billion gallons of water from evaporating each year" and "provide 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually, about half of the new capacity the state needs to meet its decarbonization goals by the year 2030."
Doubling up on uses for the canals would provide a convenient solution for solar installations that would otherwise require the disturbance of natural habitats or farmland. Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute at the UC Berkeley School of Law, likens the idea to placing rooftop solar panels on a suburban home. "You’re taking something that's already been altered by human activity and doubling up on the benefits it provides."
Environmental engineer Brandi McKuin, lead author on the paper, said that "by covering canals with solar panels, we can reduce evaporation and avoid disturbing natural and working lands, while providing renewable energy and other co-benefits." The study's authors "also took into account the human benefits of such a project, which are more nebulous. For example, many farmers pump their water with diesel generators. If solar panels provided that energy instead, that could cut local emissions, thus improving air quality."
"Solar-paneling California’s canals could also prepare the state for the widespread adoption of electric cars. The California Aqueduct runs right along Interstate 5, the major artery carrying traffic between the northern and southern halves of the state. Where there are now gas stations dotted along the way, in the future there might be car-charging stations that draw power from the nearby aqueduct."
The study's authors recommend a demonstration project to evaluate the costs, benefits, and potential challenges associated with a full-scale implementation of the concept.
Planning for Congestion Relief
The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.
Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think
Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.
New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives
The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.
Proposed Transit Line Would Connect Downtown Tucson to Airport
Based on community input for a 15-mile transit line, residents want to see a focus on affordable housing development and anti-displacement measures.
Strip Malls as a Housing Solution
The American strip mall may be a dying breed of commercial development, but could the buildings serve a new use as sustainable housing?
Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’
A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.
City of Redwood City
City of Rohnert Park
City of Hot Springs
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.