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Tomorrow’s world

Harnessing the power of our canals

Part of California’s 4,000-mile canal network. Education Images/Getty Images

Solar panels and canals could make a “beautiful partnership”, says Matt Simon in Wired. All you need is a simple steel frame to cover the waterways with the panels. Then, in hot climates, the panels would “hoover up solar energy” while protecting water from evaporation. Californian scientists “ran the numbers” on what might happen if the state covered all 4,000 miles of its canal network. They found it would stop 63bn gallons of water evaporating each year, and make 13 gigawatts of electricity – half the power that the state needs to meet its 2030 renewable energy goals.

There are other practical benefits. The panels could power the pumps needed to move the water uphill; the water would in turn cool the panels, which operate more efficiently at a lower temperature. And putting panels on “already disturbed land” would free up space elsewhere – just as homeowners put panels on their roofs rather than digging up their lawns.

Token gestures

The “mania” for non-fungible tokens shows no sign of stopping, says Jemima Kelly in the Financial Times. NFTs are digital certificates of authenticity, like a computer file that can’t be duplicated. They’re used to show who owns other digital files, such as images and videos, that can be duplicated. People have spent millions on them – Christie’s recently sold an NFT for a digital collage for $69.3m. The musician Grimes, partner of Elon Musk, has made $6m selling artwork and music videos as NFTs. The DJ Steve Aoki sold a 35-second video of a hairy, psychedelic Dream Catcher (below) for $888,888.88. It proves that, as ever, “value is in the eye of the beholder”.

Check out Steve Aoki’s Dream Catcher here 👎