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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Exploring the Feasibility of Floating Solar on Lauro Reservoir

Aerial view of solar panels floating in pond

Group Members: Trent Buchanan, Andrea Gracia Duran, Colin Schimmelfing, Carlos Simms, Joe Walderman

Faculty Advisors: Roland Geyer

Client: City of Santa Barbara



Final Report

Executive Summary

Final Presentation


The City of Santa Barbara’s commitment to reaching 100% renewable energy by 2030 has led to an exploration of opportunities for clean generation with an emphasis on local projects for increased energy resilience. Floating solar (FPV) technology presents a unique and attractive solution to achieving this goal by increasing local renewable energy generation without occupying scarce available land in Santa Barbara. This report explores Lauro Reservoir as an appealing site for implementing this technology, technology that provides additional benefits such as reduced reservoir evaporation. Commissioning a project of this kind creates a win-win scenario for both the City’s energy goals and water supply system; however, stakeholder considerations and barriers from local, state, and federal levels must be navigated to prove FPV feasibility at this site. We assess these considerations and utilize modeling software to identify the costs and value of several potential FPV system configurations. After an exploration of system designs, co-benefits, and generation estimates, results show an optimal system design of 5.7 MW maximizes the site while producing electricity at a competitive price for the City. Implementation of this project could serve as a test case for further adoption of FPV on reservoirs by both the City of Santa Barbara and other municipalities.


City of Santa Barbara: Alelia Parenteau, Energy and Climate Manager; Kristian Hoffland, Energy Analyst II; Josh Haggmark, Water Resources Manager; Andrew Rhodes, Water Treatment Superintendent. 

Ranjit Deshmukh, Assistant Professor, Bren School 

Brandi McKuin, Postdoctoral Researcher, UC Santa Cruz

Joel Degner, Engineer/Operations Division Manager, Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board

Maddie Julian, Sales Associate, Mainspring Energy

Mia Lopez, Administrative Assistant, Wishtoyo Foundation

Byron Pakter, Chief Executive, Optony, Inc.

United States Bureau of Reclamation

Southern California Edison

Evan Riley, CEO and Co-Founder, White Pine Renewables

Terry Crowley, Utility Director, City of Healdsburg

Mission Energy: Connor Haney, Vice President; Jeff Rauenhorst, Vice President

Third Pillar Solar: Ned Horneffer, Senior Development Manager; John McDermott, GIS Manager

Chris Bartle, Director of Sales Marketing, Ciel & Terre

Mike Gialketsis, Vice President Strategic Advisor, Rincon Consultants

Clean Coalition: Ben Schwartz, Policy Manager; Gregory Young, Program Manager

Annie Secrest, Energy & Water Coordinator, County of San Luis Obispo

Paul Gilman, Technical Writer and Trainer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Vilayanur Viswanathan, Senior Research Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Energy Toolbase: Matthew Cimo, Regional Sales Manager; Stephen McVicar, Account Manager

James S. Bower Foundation

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