California pilot tests energy storage on solar canal canopies

Conceptual rendering of spanning the 110 foot-wide TID Main Canal. Courtesy TID

Energy storage manufacturer ESS Inc. will deliver two Energy Warehouse (EW) systems to the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) in Central California, US.

The long-duration energy storage systems will support TID’s Project Nexus, a pioneering installation of solar panels over irrigation canals, aimed to generate clean energy while minimising loss of water through evaporation.

It’s a proof-of-concept pilot to study solar over canal design, deployment, and co-benefits on behalf of the State of California using TID infrastructure and electrical grid access.

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TID will use ESS technology to demonstrate the key role of long-duration energy storage in delivering reliable, dispatchable clean energy 24/7.

Funding for the project is provided by the State of California and administered by the Department of Water Resources.

“Long-duration energy storage is the key that will enable Project Nexus to not only conserve water and generate renewable energy, but provide on-demand, clean power 24/7,” said Hugh McDermott, ESS senior vice president, business development and sales.

“This project addresses multiple climate challenges at once and is the kind of innovative approach that will build a climate-resilient future. We look forward to delivering a solution that can be replicated across California and other drought-prone areas,” added McDermott.

Image credit: ESS Inc.

ESS iron flow technology provides long-duration energy storage and is ideal for applications that require up to 12 hours of flexible energy capacity.

Project Nexus is expected to be complete in 2024.

The water-energy nexus

TID suggests that utilities are increasingly becoming aware of the overlap between water and energy management and are prioritising strategies to protect both resources as far as possible.

With Project Nexus, the water in the conveyance infrastructure has the potential to cool the solar panels, increasing their efficiency.

The solar panels also provide shade and wind protection over the water, reducing evaporation and leading to a reduction in aquatic growth improving water quality.

Research at the University of California has shown that up to 13GW of solar capacity could be installed over California’s canals, which would require approximately 3GW of energy storage and contribute significantly to the state’s clean energy and water conservation goals.

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