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More Power, More Water: Solar-Over-Canal Projects Are Coming to California

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California is pioneering innovations to generate clean electricity while conserving water, and we’re teaming up with the Biden Administration to advance another pilot project that could deliver a major new source of clean power and transform the state’s water system.

MERCED COUNTY – California’s Central Valley is not just home to the breadbasket of the world, it’s now home to the big ideas that could tackle our biggest challenges: using innovation to generate clean electricity while conserving water.

Governor Gavin Newsom invested $20 million in a solar over canals pilot project in Turlock, and today the Governor joined the Biden Administration to celebrate new federal funding for another solar over canals pilot project outside of Los Banos. Solar over canals projects involve installing solar panels over water canals to help reduce evaporation and generate clean electricity.

WHAT GOVERNOR NEWSOM SAID: “California is pioneering innovations to tackle our biggest challenges, and here in the Central Valley we’re addressing two big challenges at the same time – generating clean electricity and conserving water. Companies are coming to California because we’re embracing innovation and we have the talent and infrastructure to foster new technologies that will solve not only California’s, but the world’s, biggest challenges.”

These pilot projects will:

  • Demonstrate the feasibility of installing solar panels over canals
  • Reduce water evaporation
  • Improve water quality
  • Provide renewable power generation
  • Demonstrate scalability

UC Merced will study the Turlock project to determine how much clean energy could be generated, how much water could be conserved, and analyze how this could be scaled statewide. Initial findings show that if these projects are scaled statewide they would:

  • Save California over 60 billion gallons of water every year – enough for 2 million people;
  • Generate 13 gigawatts of clean power – more than half the projected new solar capacity needed by 2030 to meet the state’s decarbonization goals.

🔋 MORE POWER: It’s innovations like these that are pushing California’s clean energy future, where we’re hitting our goals years ahead of schedule:

  • Nearly 60% of California’s electricity comes from clean sources – on track to meet our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045;
  • California has already built out 35,000 megawatts of clean electricity capacity for the grid – already powering millions of homes;
  • The state has increased battery storage by 757% in only four years – enough to power 6.6 million homes for up to four hours.

💧 MORE WATER: This is part of how the state is boosting water supplies, expanding storage, and defending against the threat of the climate crisis. Just this week at the annual April snow survey, the Governor highlighted how California’s water strategies and investments are drastically expanding the amount of water we’re capturing, storing and delivering to Californians.

  • Nearly $9 billion in water investments over the last three years;
  • Expanded water supply and storage through groundwater recharge and other projects by over 400 billion gallons;
  • Streamlining projects and limiting litigation delays to spur new and improved water infrastructure;
  • Large-scale environmental restoration, including the removal of four dams from the Klamath River – the nation’s largest dam removal project.