$15M Federal Grant Will Build Floating Solar Cells Over Delta-Mendota Canal – GV Wire

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A $15 million grant from the federal government will fund a pilot program to build the first floating solar cells along the 117-mile long Delta-Mendota Canal.

The money from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will help the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, the Bureau and UC Merced study the impact of installing solar over the waterway, according to a Thursday news release from Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno).

President Joe Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act provided the funds.

“Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, we are making groundbreaking investments to advance the integration of renewable energy into our water systems,” said Costa. “I’m proud to have led this effort in Congress to build drought resilience across California. Innovative projects like this will power local homes and save water from evaporation annually.”

Solar Canals Could Save Billions of Gallons of Water, Light up LA

With the money, researchers intend to develop three floating cells that could stay in place along the fast-moving waters. If proven viable, solar on the 4,000 miles of canals throughout California could not only provide significant amounts of electricity but save water by slowing evaporation.

By reducing direct sunlight, the solar cells could also limit algal blooms.

A UC Merced study estimated that 63 billion gallons could be saved by covering canals. Those solar cells could also generate 13 gigawatts of power, enough for the city of Los Angeles from January to October.

The floating solar project will span five years and involve multiple phases, including site selection, engineering, construction, operation, and maintenance, according to the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

“This funding will allow us to advance our shared objectives of exploring the potential of integrating renewable energy into water project operations, improving the quality of water delivered to our contractors, and maximizing the use of every drop of water in California by potentially reducing conveyance losses,” said Federico Barajas, executive director of the Authority.

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