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Solar River, CSSP Canal Spanning Solar Power
Phone: (520) 333-6033
Phone: (520) 333-6033
Our farmers are economically stressed, a recent Department of Agriculture report plots out how land prices have steadily increased, almost tripling since 1990, yet farm cash income has turned volatile and recently sunk back down to 1990 numbers. This economic constriction puts immense pressure on our rural small landholders to increase economic output per acre. Solar power at small and medium scales must be deployable and not interfere with agricultural production. By developing a price competitive solar racking system, landowners have greater economic stability from multiple income sources while reducing energy price volatility risks. The proposed solution is to design a simple and flexible solar power racking system that spans irrigation canals in an affordable cost‐competitive way. The proposed system leverages pre‐owned and already utilized land, provides benefits of lowering evaporation, increased solar cell efficiency, along with making use of pre‐existing access roads usually along canals. The approach is to employ new technologies in adaptive structural design as a way of finding the absolute lightest, strongest, and cheapest structural solution. By having an installer and consumer‐friendly design that is robust yet light and cheap, the system can easily be installed in mass quantities over irrigation canals all across the Midwest and western states. Our Phase‐1 research outcome was an adaptive structural and solar design that optimally conforms to any canal site and orientation. This design methodology is enhanced with Artificial Intelligence optimization which chooses from thousands of possible design configurations, the most economical final design possible for the client and site. This process folds in structural, energy, and comprehensive pricing calculations, in addition to a life‐cycle cost projection. Our Phase‐2 project will be to build our first full‐scale prototype which will be used to measure any water evaporation and water quality improvements, measure a boost to solar panel production which operate at cooler temperatures, and closely refine the construction assembly process to ensure a fast, safe, and affordable structural product. We will also be conducting a canal impact survey to test and produce new safety compliant procedures for operating canals with solar structures overhead.Development of this system will provide many benefits when adopted in the marketplace. Some of these benefits include; creation of clean energy jobs in rural areas, reinvestment in rural infrastructure systems, water evaporation reduced with less mineralization and fouling of farmlands, stabilization of energy prices, land conservation, reduction of heat‐island effects, and reduced water pumping costs to farmers and communities.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *