Canal Solar

Canal Solar Built by 3D Concrete Printing

Canal solar is a groundbreaking dual-use solar technology that generates clean energy while providing shade to agricultural irrigation canals. Canal solar has the potential to generate tens of gigawatts of renewable energy and save tens of billions of gallons of fresh water annually in the U.S., all while avoiding the need to convert more farmland or public lands to utility-scale ground-mount solar.

Why 3D Printing for Canal Solar?

Using 3D concrete printing techniques to construct canal solar foundations is a new innovation on a proven material technology. For decades, concrete has been a low-cost way to build roads, bridges and other civic infrastructure.

Now, agricultural water canals – most of which are publicly owned – can host long-life solar infrastructure while reducing evaporation and preserving water for farming communities.

To date, canal solar has been built with steel trusses, i-beams, or cable suspension, which are expensive, carbon intensive, and slow to install. Steel structures are also more susceptible to corrosion when exposed to moisture and have higher operations and maintenance costs.

Existing approaches run the risk of supply chain issues, poor adaptability to complex terrains, and high construction costs.

Advantages of 3DCP for Canal Solar 

Reduced cost

Concrete is less expensive than steel per unit mass, making it a much more economically viable option for building canal solar infrastructure.

Reduced carbon footprint

Concrete has a significantly smaller environmental impact than steel per unit mass.

canal solar


3D concrete printing is adaptable to complex terrains. The flexible nature of 3D printing is particularly useful for canal solar due to the irregular paths and widths of most canals.

Improved environmental impacts

The improved shading of solar arrays over agricultural canals conserves water and protects water quality so crucial for irrigation, while replacing existing diesel water pumps with solar-powered alternatives.


How does it work?

Sperra’s patent-pending jack-up foundation enables cost-effective canal solar development by incorporating a 3D-printed structural design that is optimized to reduce material usage.

Manufacturing the structure on or near the site of the canal while using local concrete materials reduces installation costs and supply chain dependencies, while the integrated jack-up design cuts installation time and costs.

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