Renewable Energies

GEORGE CAIRO ENGINEERING, INC. (GCE) is on the forefront of conservation efforts for the southwest's most valuable natural resource: water. We work to innovate and integrate green-state of the art solutions to address the climate challenged water and energy nexus. Global Challenges such as climate change, drought, resource scarcity, ecosystem degradation, and the growing energy demands have called for creative solutions through canal solar projects, water conservation, nextgen agriculture, and supporting a Circular Bio-Economy.

Representative Projects

  • Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) - Solar Over I-10 Level Top Canal Design Project, Chandler, AZ. This project is a State-of-the-Art concept of developing a Canal Energy System (CES) on the P-MIP Level Top Canal with a Canal Spanning Solar Panels (CSSP) system. In fact, this is the first CES designed in the United States and anticipated to be the first constructed in the western hemisphere. The CSSP system will generate renewable energy for sustainable growth and the system is designed to span across canals supporting Photovoltaic (PV) arrays without disrupting valuable agricultural lands or native desert. GCE provided overall technical oversight for planning and final design for the GRIC Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) Solar Over Canal Interstate 10 (I-10) Level Top Canal Design Project. Design consisted of approximately 1,624 solar panels spanning the I-10 Level Top Canal to conserve approximately 7.98 ac-ft of water annually (5.40 ac-ft from evaporation + 2.576 ac-ft from thermoelectric energy usage) and provide approximately of 876kW of nameplate power capacity generating approximately 1,667 MWh annually to the Gila River Indian Community Utility Authority (GRICUA) electrical grid to offset the Community irrigation district groundwater extraction system operational power expenses. Over the life cycle (25 years life cycle) of the project, this equates to saving about 200 ac-ft of water. The CSSP system includes major galvanized steel frame sections mounted with solar panels to cover a length of about 962 feet of the canal. The solar array will include two hinged solar frames on either end of the Level Top Canal for operation and maintenance access, while all other arrays will be fixed with pin connections removable for access to the canal. There are 29 frames, each with 56 solar panels connected to 15 pairs of inverters that are networked to tie-into the GRICUA MTD transformers. All major frames will be mounted onto drilled concrete shafts one at each corner of a major frame installation. The project included planning, design, survey, cost estimating, technical specifications, and full bidding package. Project scope also included the preparation of federal grant applications for construction funding. Design team included George Cairo Engineering, Inc., Water Xience, and Tectonicus, et al.
  • Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project (P-MIP) - Canal Energy System, Solar Over Casa Blanca Feasibility Study, Sacaton, AZ. GCE was tasked to complete a Canal Energy System (CES) feasibility study focused on a canal spanning solar panel system over the Casa Blanca Canal. The feasibility level study was divided into three distinct projects to include the following: 1) An approximate $5 million dollar design and construction budget project assuming the project limits straddle Interstate-10 west and east along the Casa Blanca Canal alignment. 2) An approximate $10 million dollar design and construction budget project assuming the project limits continue to the west and east of the project defined in the above $5 million dollar project along the Casa Blanca Canal alignment. 3) The third project will assume analysis of the entire limits of the Casa Blanca Canal about 16 miles, to include a design and construction budget for the overall project limits to the east, and west side of Interstate-10. The feasibility analysis included an assessment of the canal alignment and elimination of canal reaches that are not economically viable due to distance to power infrastructure connectivity, safety concerns, in-line structures and appurtenances, or other factors. Canal cross sections, O&M, and operations were also considered in study assumptions. Based on the determination of feasible solar coverage limits, an energy generation analysis was completed using utility scale solar generation modeling software to estimate solar power generation. Assumptions were made with respect to frame support systems and ancillary features. Cost estimates at a feasibility level including design and construction were developed for the three proposed projects. Connectivity to the GRICUA power distribution system was also evaluated including line capacity, optimal connection locations, limitations in the system, and required upgrades or improvements needed to allow the proposed Canal Energy System power generation to be input to their distribution system. All work was documented in a final Canal Energy System Feasibility Report.