Home News Ag Economics $15 Million Grant for Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project

$15 Million Grant for Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $15 million grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for its Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project. This grant, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, will support the development, installation, and operation of a solar-over-canal pilot project and associated study to assess the viability of floating solar technologies on the Delta-Mendota Canal (DMC).

The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project aims to explore the potential of using floating solar panels to generate renewable energy while reducing evaporative losses and algal growth in the DMC and assessing the impacts on operations and maintenance of the DMC. SLDMWA, in collaboration with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the University of California, Merced, will assess various technologies and study the design, deployment, and co-benefits of floating solar over canals.

Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, expressed his gratitude to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the grant, as well as the support received from the California Congressional delegation, particularly the late Senator Feinstein and California Representatives Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), who were instrumental in securing the federal authorization in the Inflation Reduction Act.

“We are honored to receive this grant and grateful for the support of the Bureau of Reclamation and our Congressional Representatives,’ said Barajas. “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.”

The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project will span five years and involve multiple phases, including site selection, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance. The project will assess the viability of floating solar arrays, optimal tethering, and power connection options, the potential for reduced evaporation and algal growth, and potential recommendations for operation and maintenance requirements. It will also provide valuable insights for future solar canal installations across the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s canal system.

SLDMWA will work with the University of California, Merced, to collect and analyze data on the performance of the floating solar modules in the canal system. This data will inform the project’s outcomes and contribute to a scale-up analysis that can assist in guiding future investments in solar over canals. The University of California, Merced, is already gathering information and collaborating with structural solar associated with Project Nexus, a project advanced by the Turlock Irrigation District using grant funding from the State of California.

The Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project has a total budget of $15 million, with the grant funding provided by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The project will be managed by SLDMWA, with support from its partners and the research expertise of the University of California, Merced.

A study by the University of California, Merced gives a boost to the idea, estimating that 63 billion gallons of water could be saved by covering California’s 4,000 miles of canals with solar panels that could also generate 13 gigawatts of power. That’s enough for the entire city of Los Angeles from January through early October.

About San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority: The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority is a joint powers authority that operates and maintains the Delta-Mendota Canal and associated transferred works for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. SLDMWA is committed to advancing sound natural resources policy and exploring innovative solutions that improve climate resilience in California.

About U.S. Bureau of Reclamation: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency responsible for managing, developing, and protecting water resources in the Western United States. The Bureau of Reclamation supports projects that advance the integration of renewable energy and promote clean energy solutions.

About University of California, Merced:  UC Merced is a research university located in Merced County, California. The university’s research expertise on the water-energy nexus will contribute to the study and analysis of the Delta-Mendota Canal Floating Solar Project, providing valuable insights for future solar canal installations.

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