Solar River

Arizona 2016 - Present (Ongoing Research)

This ongoing research project explores the potential of covering significant stretches of the Central Arizona Project irrigation canal (CAP) with a landscape-scale system of PV panels. This system would have the dual advantage of significantly reducing evaporation while sustainably generating electricity to power the pumping stations that move the water from the Colorado River to the upland areas around Phoenix and Tucson. Powering the pumping stations in this way would greatly reduce the need for the coal generation plant at the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona. This project has been undertaking in collaboration with the CAP authority, BLM, and the University of Arizona, and is seeking feasible approaches to creating the solar canal. In addition to the many pragmatic and budgetary challenges, this project also serves as a lens into this complex part of the country, opening a view up to issues of agriculture, urbanization, recreation, wildlife migration, ecology, and border security that overlap the vast region transcribed by the canal.

  • Area: 285,000,000 sqft / 26,477,000 sqm
  • Partners: CAP, BLM, University of Arizona
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