You probably don’t think of solar power as being a way to save water. After all, electricity and water typically don’t mix well! Solar installations in Sacramento are known to save you money on your electric bill and on your taxes. How can they help California save water?
Solar Power and a Long-Term Drought Solution
Solar arrays, whether for generating electricity or solar pool heating, reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed for energy. That reduces the production of greenhouse gases, providing “breathing room” for natural ecosystems. Recent reports indicate that the jet stream in the Northern Hemisphere is significantly affected by climate change, causing weather patterns to get “stuck in place” for longer periods of time. That generally leads to drought conditions in Northern California, while other parts of the world get too much rain. Reducing the impact of climate change with solar power helps to restore balance.
Photovoltaics and an Immediate Drought Solution
Another surprising benefit involves a new take on solar arrays. Floatovoltaics places solar panels over bodies of water like artificial ponds and reservoirs. The Far Niente winery in Napa was an early pioneer of this technique in California. If the method is expanded even further, the effects on reducing drought and climate change could be significant. For example, a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability showed that covering the 4 thousand miles of California’s water canals and aqueducts would reduce evaporative water loss while producing power for the utility grid. They calculated that California could save 63 billion gallons of water annually from evaporation while generating 13 gigawatts of clean electricity!
Does that mean you might see a span of solar panels across the lakes in your community? Most likely not – the experts and researchers are mostly looking at artificial water sources to avoid affecting fish and other aquatic animals. The Far Niente winery, for instance, placed their panels over an irrigation pond. Likewise, the nearby Healdsburg wastewater treatment facility installed floatovoltaics over storage ponds. (This new Napa Valley floatovoltaics installation may even be the largest in the world at 4.8 megawatts.) Shade from the panels produced the added benefit of reducing algae and pond scum generated by sunlight. Nations of the world are taking notice of these advantages and incorporating floatovoltaics into their water supply systems, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, China, and Japan.
How You Can Benefit from Photovoltaics?
At this time, Maxeon and SunPower have not released a ready-made system of floatovoltaics for your home or business. Rest assured that if they do, their version will be the best on the market! Meanwhile, you can benefit now by putting your unused roof space to work with a solar power system. For more information, please give our office a call or schedule a free solar analysis online. And if you have more questions about floatovoltaics, we’re happy to discuss that with you, too!