WorldWide Drilling Resource®

35 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® OCTOBER 2020 Solar River Project Offers Water and Energy Solutions Adapted from Information by Tectonicus Constructs and the U.S. Department of Energy Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced it was investing nearly $53.4 million in small business research and development. One of the projects selected for funding is the Solar River project by Tectonicus Constructs out of Bisbee, Arizona. The Solar River project involves using solar panels to cover irrigation canals, providing supplemental income to farmers, while also reducing evaporation. Currently, there are over 110,000 miles of canals delivering water to over 60 million acres of farmland. Water is pumped out of the canals, pressurized, and used to irrigate crops. Typically, farmers use coal-, gas-, or diesel-powered pumps; this system makes it easier and more cost-effective to use solar pumps. The goal of the Solar River project is to design a simple and flexible solar power racking system to span irrigation canals in an affordable way. The ap- proach is to employ new technologies in adaptive structural design as a way of finding the lightest, strongest, and most affordable structural solution. Of equal importance, is the project’s objective to create a system which can be easily installed in mass quantities over irrigation canals all across the Midwest and Western states. Comparable to land-based solar systems, the canal-spanning system is designed to ensure un- interrupted canal operations, inspections, maintenance, and safety. The founders also designed the system with enough clearance for machinery, such as loaders, to access to the canals.. The panels themselves contain no dissolvable heavy metals or lead, making them safe for use over waterways. Not only do the panels reduce canal evaporation, it also reduces the chances of contamination and decreases the temperature of the canal water. The system is available in several different widths and orientations and can work for different types of canals. From main line irrigation canals and lateral irrigation canals to drain and collector canals, the Solar River project aims to offer a solution for both water and energy. ENV