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Arizona solar canal project aims to save water while making power

• New Atlas

With a similar project planned for California still yet to get started, the US$6.74-million project becomes the first of its kind to begin construction in the USA. The first phase aims to build solar photovoltaic shades stretching across the 1-10 Level Top canal for a length of around 1,000 ft (305 m).

The benefits of this simple idea could be significant. Not only will the solar panels generate up to one megawatt of power for the Gila River Indian Community, they'll also provide shade for the water below, helping keep water in the canals rather than letting the baking desert heat evaporate it away. Viewed as a solar farm, it should be considerably cheaper, since no land needs to be acquired.