President Trump announced the idea while speaking at a rally at Cedar Rapids in Iowa. He told supporters that the panels would provide cheap energy while helping to pay for its construction.
“Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea” Trump told cheering Trump fans, despite the fact that solar panels have already been included in designs for the wall drawn up by a number of companies. “We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we're talking about the southern border, lots of sun, lots of heat. We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that's good, right? Solar wall, panels, beautiful. I mean actually think of it, the higher it goes the more valuable it is.”
Over 200 companies have submitted designs for the wall, responding to an invitation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Las Vegas company Gleason Partners is among several firms that have included solar panels in the design for the wall. Of these, 20 companies have been shortlisted according to the DHS.
Alongside proposals for a solar-panelled wall by companies, the idea has also been mooted by Homero Aridjis and James Ramey, writing for The Huffington Post in December 2016. Another version was suggested yesterday (22nd June 2017) in an article for The Wall Street Journal by Vasilis Fthenakis and Ken Zweibel who argued that a traditional border wall should be scrapped in favour of a 2,000 mile solar farm extending along the Mexican side of the border.
Bruce Blakeman from Sustainable Technology Inc also appeared on Fox News on 9th June discussing the proposal and giving an idea of what it might look like:
Solar plants along the border could generate energy that could then be transmitted to cities nearby, including, potentially, San Diego, Tijuana, Mexicali, Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, San Antonio and Monterrey, Aridjis and Ramey argued. It would also help to civilise a dangerous area, given that solar farms use a number of security measures to keep away intruders. It would make drugs trafficking much more difficult and would also generate construction and technology jobs along the border which in turn could employ a significant number of the migrant workers attempting to cross the border illegally. Most importantly, it would play a significant role in the global battle against carbon emissions, as well as helping to further reduce the cost of solar energy. In the coastal regions, ecologically sensitive desalination plants could be constructed alongside the solar plants in order to produce fresh water. This could be pumped inland to areas suffering from water shortages.
Image: President Trump speaking in Cedar Rapids (BBC screenshot)
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