Turlock Irrigation District Selected to Pilot Nation’s First Water-Power Connection Project Involving Solar Panels Above Canals


TURLOCK, Calif., February 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — During its February 8, 2022 board meeting, Turlock Irrigation District (TID) announcement Nexus Projecta pilot project to build solar panel canopies on part of the existing TID canals to operate and research a truly innovative, multi-benefit water-energy nexus project that can further California pushing towards water and climate resilience.

Project Nexus, a public-private-academic partnership between TID, the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Solar AquaGrid and the University of California, Mercedcould contribute to a more water-resilient future for California and position the state to achieve its ambitious clean energy goals. The very first solar panel on the development of a canal in United States, the project will assess the reduction in water evaporation resulting from midday shade and wind attenuation; improved water quality through reduced vegetative growth; reduced canal maintenance due to reduced vegetative growth; and the production of renewable electricity.

Groundbreaking for the Nexus project is scheduled for this fall, with project completion expected in 2024 at multiple locations across the TID service territory in California Central Valley. The project will use existing TID infrastructure on already disturbed land to keep costs low and efficiency high while supporting the region’s sustainable agricultural tradition. Additionally, energy storage will be installed to investigate how storage facilities can support the local power grid when solar generation is sub-optimal due to cloud cover. the $20 million project is funded by the state of California.

“In our 135-year history, we have always pursued innovative projects that benefit TID’s water and electricity customers,” said TID’s Chairman of the Board. Michael Frantz. “There will always be reasons to say ‘no’ to projects like this, but as the first public irrigation district Californiawe are not afraid to chart a new course with pilot projects that can achieve our water and energy sustainability goals.”

Although the Nexus project, particularly if expanded beyond a demonstration project, offers benefits to TID, the project is seen as a model that can be replicated elsewhere in the state to help California achieve its water and energy goals. The inspiration for the Nexus project comes from the concept presented in a recent University of California study published last March in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The UC study showed that coverage of all of the approximately 4,000 miles of California the canals could show a savings of 63 billion gallons of water per year, comparable to the amount needed to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the residential water needs of more than 2 million people. According to the study, the 13 gigawatts of solar power that the solar panels would generate each year would equal about one-sixth of the state’s current installed capacity.

“The Solar AquaGrid model provides a combined and integrated response to address our water-energy nexus,” said UC Merced professor. Roger Balls. “It helps to address California underlying vulnerabilities while meeting state and federal commitments to generate renewable energy, preserve natural lands, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

DWR will oversee the administration of the project, provide technical assistance and serve as a research partner.

“We are excited to explore new efforts to advance the integration of renewable energy into our water supply system,” said Karla Nemeth, director of the DWR. “The project has great potential, and we look forward to collaborating with our local and university partners to advance these types of multi-benefit projects.”

Turlock Irrigation District has retained Bay Area Solar development company AquaGrid as project developers and program managers for TID and Project Nexus. The two agencies have been collaborating since the beginning of the project. Solar AquaGrid originated the project after commissioning the UC Merced study in 2015 and facilitated collaboration between different parties to complete the Nexus project.

“Research and common sense tell us that at a time of intensifying drought, it’s time to put the brakes on evaporation,” said Jordan Harris, CEO of Solar AquaGrid. “We are thrilled to partner with Turlock Irrigation District, DWR and UC Merced to develop this nation’s first pilot project and bring needed innovation to the Central Valley. Our initial study found that mounting solar panels on open channels can result in significant water, energy, and cost savings over ground-mounted solar systems, including increased efficiency resulting from exponential shading/cooling effect.Now is the opportunity to put this learning to the test.

For more information about the project and project partners, visit www.tid.org/projectnexus, or contact the people listed below.

TID- Josh Weimer | [email protected] | 209.883.8361
AquaGrid Solar – Julie Hendricks | [email protected] | 626.390.6265
DWR- Maggie Macias | [email protected] | 916.902.7405
UC Merced– Lorena Anderson | [email protected] | 209.201.6255

Nexus Project Partners

Turlock Irrigation District (TID)
The Turlock Irrigation District, located at CA Turlock, is the first public irrigation district and is one of only four today that provides irrigation water and electricity to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers within its service area. TID has been in the retail electric business since 1923. TID provides safe, inexpensive, and reliable power to a growing customer base that today exceeds 103,000 residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and municipal accounts. TID also serves 4,700 irrigation customers covering approximately 150,000 acres of farmland. For more information about TID, visit www.tid.org.

Department of Water Resources (DWR)
The Water Resources Department’s mission is to sustainably manage the water resources of California, in cooperation with other agencies, to benefit the people of the State and to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments. For more information, follow us on Twitter or Facebook and read our press releases and DWR updates.

solar aquagrid
Solar AquaGrid LLC is a vision and project development studio based in Marin County, California. Founded by a social and sustainable entrepreneur Jordan Harris and creative director Robin Raj, the company is dedicated to accelerating the adoption of innovative solutions to address our water/energy nexus and is currently guiding the development of pilot projects to provide large-scale sun protection on canals in the Western United States. www.solaraquagrid.com

UC Merced
the University of California is over 150 years old and its 10 campuses, including UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz, have more than 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff. UC campuses are consistently ranked among the best in the world. Through teaching, research, and service, UC students, faculty, staff, and alumni advance and meet the world’s most pressing challenges. UC faculty members are responsible for thousands of innovations in biotechnology, computer science, art, architecture, and many other fields. Thousands of California jobs, billions of dollars in revenue, and countless everyday household items can be attributed to UC discoveries. Likewise, many California top companies are based on UC technology, developed by faculty, or led by UC graduates. https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu

SOURCE Turlock Irrigation District


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