California’s Project Nexus has been discussed since 2021 and is now set to debut this October, at least as a Pilot, which is supposed to demonstrate the benefits of installing solar panels canopies over canals to avoid losing water to evaporation while generating energy.
Proponents of the projects say covering California’s canals with solar panels would prevent 65 Billion gallons of water from evaporating while it is transported from northern California (where it rains) to southern California, where the water is consumed.
At the same time, solar panels would also generate a lot of energy (13GW), so it seems like a win-win situation. That energy could be used to procure fresh water by desalination, although it’s not an official claim.
As a proof of concept, two locations will see modest solar panels installation, with one mile at Ceres city and 500-foot at Hickman.
Project Nexus’ goal is to see if the idea can prevent evaporation at the scale it is supposed to. Officials even expect the installation to control plant growth around the water, which could positively affect water quality.
If it works as planned, it would trigger a green light for the full-scale project. It’s exciting, but we should expect some hiccups on the way, perhaps with maintenance or energy transport issues. However, if this project ends up being a net positive, it would be a massive win for renewable energy and land use.