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An innovative idea to generate clean energy while conserving water

Words by Tess Becker

The challenge of optimizing urban space has become more urgent in times of climate crisis. But researchers may have found an innovative solution involving city waterways.

Studies in India show that installing solar panels over waterways could boost clean energy and conserve water. The first U.S. pilot project is getting underway in California.

The research shows that suspending solar arrays over canals can generate electricity in land-constrained areas but also might reduce water evaporation in drought-prone regions.

More than 125 climate advocacy groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior calling on the agency to deploy solar over its 8,000 miles of canals and aqueducts. 

“Focusing the deployment of solar energy on water-conveyance canals — an already built environment — and already within the Bureau of Reclamation’s control, could allow the department to meet the requirements of the Energy Act of 2020 mandate to deploy 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy on public lands without destroying a single additional acre of habitat,” the letter said.

As the climate crisis worsens, this may serve as one option for producing clean energy while conserving water. 

“We’re trying to elevate this as a good solution that you should be doing,” Brett Hartl, the government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. ​“You don’t have to pave over thousands of acres of land…at the expense of lost habitat.”

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Climate Group. An international organization aimed at driving climate action as quickly as possible. Find out more and support them here.

Climate Action Network.  Climate Action Network brings together nearly 2,000 civic organizations to tackle the climate crisis around the world. Find out more.

Climate Alliance. Thousands of organizations make up this European, urban climate action network. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Clean Energy.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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