Big solar projects, utility scale projects taking up 2,500-3,500 acres of prime farmland, are an issue here in the midwest. There are legitimate problems, primarily runoff and erosion necessitating drainage mitigation and large ponds; and the problem of fencing around the project funneling wildlife onto the roads and highways.

Anyway, there’s been some attention paid to these issues, in one case by none other than my “friends” at Great Plains Institute, who were part of a federal study on stormwater management:

That’s good, an admission that there are problems with water draining off all these acres of impervious surface.

And this just came through today from the Environmental Quality Board:

The guidance has a link to a way to find “high value” resources:

Most high value resources described in this guidance document can be identified using Minnesota
Conservation Explorer (MCE)

Passive solar heating panels

December 11th, 2022

For years, I’ve wanted to put together a test project here in Red Wing, a solar heating panel on the south facing wall of many of the homes in town. Given the major impact of a heating panel on ONE house, imagine the heat, cost savings, and energy consumption decrease in a fleet of them! Oh well… I’ve not done the work, but if I have some time, dream on, but parking some pages here and starting a file.

There are so many good sites with info. The most important take away is that it’s very CHEAP to build these, and doesn’t take much skill.

And some related inks:

Low Profile, Aluminum Downspout, Solar Hot Air Construction Project

Downspout Test Collector Construction

OK, parked…


9:30 a.m. Wednesday November 9, 2022

3rd Floor Large Meeting Room

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, St. Paul

Wisconsin folks, call your legislators! Support this bill!

Why? Wisconsin has a “brownfield” bill, but Public Service Commissioners IGNORE the requirement that energy infrastructure be built on brownfields:

Wis. Stat. §196.491(3)(d)8:

(d) Except as provided under par. (e), the commission shall approve an application filed under par. (a) 1. for a certificate of public convenience and necessity only if the commission determines all of the following:

8. For a large electric generating facility, brownfields, as defined in s. 238.13 (1) (a), are used to the extent practicable.

Despite this clear requirement, they acknowledge it, laugh about it, and dismiss it without consideration, and instead site on prime and protected agricultural land.

So YES! This, something I’ve been advocating for, for YEARS!

A conceptual solar canal.

Why did it take so long for this to arrive here in the U.S., it took many years, and a release of a study pointing out the siting and efficiency advantages. Parking this here for future reference!

Why India’s Canals Could Help Fast-Forward Its Solar-Energy Plans

“Not only do they perform more efficiently, but because we can assume that the generated electricity is utilised in nearby areas, the transmission losses of (normally) 4% and distribution losses of 3% are avoided,” said Sagarkumar Agravat, head of GERMI’s solar research and development.

Apart from this, since the panels are placed on top of water, they are cooled from below, which also increases their efficiency and enhances output by 2.5-5%.

Renewable future: Gujarat govt to set up 100 MW solar power project atop Narmada canal

The ‘solar canals’ making smart use of India’s space

Overall, Gujarat has more than 80,000km of canals meandering through the state. According to Gujarat State Electricity Corporation, if 30% of this were converted to solar, 18,000MW of power could be produced, saving 90,000 acres of land.

This is not a new idea, a demonstration canal project was built in India in 2012:

Gujarat’s solar panels over canals project is a great idea for sustainable energy production

And almost a decade later, in California:

Study looks at covering California’s canals with solar panels

And the study:

Energy and water co-benefits from covering canals with solar panels

And in Popular Science:

Solar panels and water canals could form a real power couple in California