Arizona solar canal project aims to save water while making power (Loz Blain, November 23, 2023, New Atlas)
Not only will the solar panels generate up to one megawatt of power for the Gila River Indian Community, they’ll also provide shade for the water below, helping keep water in the canals rather than letting the baking desert heat evaporate it away. Viewed as a solar farm, it should be considerably cheaper, since no land needs to be acquired.
Furthermore, the water will help cool the panels, increasing their efficiency and creating a ~3% boost to power production, according to Professor Roger Bales, who wrote about the California project for The Conversation in 2022. In a study published in 2021, Bales and his team argued that “covering all 4,000 miles of California’s canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually by reducing evaporation,” while generating up to 13 GW of renewable energy in a distributed fashion that could cut down on transmission losses.