News & Media

How did Project Nexus get its name?

December 1, 2023

The pilot project is called Project Nexus as a nod to the water-energy nexus paradigm gaining attention among public utilities. Utilities are increasingly recognizing the symbiotic relationship between water management and energy management, and are finding ways to design projects and actions that benefit the management of both resources beyond what has been done historically.

Project Nexus goes beyond recognizing the linkage that water is used for energy production and energy is used for water treatment and conveyance. With Project Nexus, existing water conveyance infrastructure will serve as the foundation for solar canopies to produce renewable energy. The water in the conveyance infrastructure has the potential to cool the solar panels, increasing their efficiency. The solar panels provide shade and wind protection over the water, reducing evaporation and also leading to a reduction in aquatic growth improving water quality.  Project Nexus has the potential to demonstrate a new, innovative water-energy nexus project that can be replicated elsewhere in the state and nation to increase efficiencies in managing limited natural resources.

Who are the Project Nexus partners?

The first test deployment of solar panels over open canals in the nation is being developed as a public-private-academic collaboration, including:

  • Turlock Irrigation District – The first irrigation district in California, TID is uniquely suited to pilot this project as both an irrigation district with 250 miles of canals and a retail electricity provider to homes, businesses and farms in the central valley.
  • CA Department of Water Resources – DWR is committed to exploring all efforts meant to advance integration of renewable energy to provide clean energy to California. The Department is providing funding from the state general fund and technical assistance to TID.
  • Solar AquaGrid – Bay Area development firm Solar AquaGrid serves as project developer and program manager for Project Nexus. Solar AquaGrid originated the pilot project after first commissioning the UC Merced Study in 2015, and is facilitating collaboration among TID and the various parties to bring Project Nexus to fruition.
  • UC Merced – Located only a few miles from TID, UC Merced researchers have been contracted to provide ongoing support, research and analysis of the project for the state and public.

Additionally, the Project is endorsed by several other non-partner agencies, such as the CA Environmental Protection Agency and the CA Natural Resources Agency.