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Solar Panels On Border Wall-Is This A Doable Option?

July 24, 2017

President Trump wants to keep his campaign promise of securing our Southern border and one of the ways that he talked about doing this is with a wall.

There is talk about using drones, surveillance and much more, but the resounding idea during the campaign was a wall.  Now there is talk about having solar pay for this wall, is this even doable?

What would be nice would be that depending where you are building, for example Texas, New Mexico that you use a local solar company for part of the project to help to stimulate the states economy.

Sell The Electricity To Pay For Wall

There are people out there that think that using solar and selling the electricity is a way to pay for the wall, but from all of the data that does not sound like it will work, but lets take a look.

President Donald Trump wants to deliver on one of the central promises of his campaign — building a wall on the Mexican border.

He pitched Republican leaders on June 6 on a proposal to cover the wall with solar panels and use the electricity generated to cover the costs of construction and maintenance.

Trump mentioned the hypothetical solar wall during a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday night, saying “this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money,” as his supporters applauded.

Here is what the wall could look like:

Part of the problem with the solar on the border wall is the way that it would have to face. For the optimum amount of sunlight to hit the panels and to generate the maximum amount of power, the panels really need to be facing south.

This could be a big problem.  Some of the problems is that the panels would have to be on the Mexico side and the chance of vandalism and theft would increase. Since they are not happy with the fact that the wall is even going up, chances are great that we would have problems keeping the solar panels safe.

Could the Wall and Solar Pay for Itself?

The price of solar power has come down over time when you compare from say 10 years ago. How long would it take for this project to pay for itself?

The wall would generate enough power to pay for its construction in under 20 years, Gleason claimed. But he cautioned that numerous variables — the Mexican border is far from a straight line and light intensity changes from month-to-month — could complicate his calculations. He said his firm hasn’t received the go-ahead from the federal government to conduct a full evaluation.

Gleason said his estimate is predicated on the cost of manufacturing solar panels decreasing over time. The price of installing solar panels has dropped from around $8 per watt in 2009 to $1.50 per watt in 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

This is what part of the border wall looks like today, so you can see a very different look when compared to the first image:

US-Mexico border wall

People around the industry and within the Trump administration are excited that the President is looking at the idea of having solar on the wall.  But by most estimates it is not doable. The cost and the amount of power that would be generated is not worth the effort says some.

The efficiency of the panels will not be completely utilized since they are not going to be facing in the correct direction to maximize the panels output.

Business leaders within the renewable-energy sector commended Trump’s decision to seriously consider going solar.

We’re excited that President Trump sees the economic value created by solar installations, as solar prices continue to plummet,” Bryan Birsic, the CEO of Wunder Capital, a renewable-energy investment firm, told Business Insider.

Having the wall produce and generate some power to pay for itself, should help with the political friction that this project is causing within both parties of Republicans and Democrats alike.

It may ease the tensions, but the chances of this project being an easy sell is not going to be that easy. In fact immigration has been a problem for many decades and still to this day, nothing has been done to fix the problem. Bandaids have been put in places to stop the bleeding, but the problem still exists.

Be Our Own Utility

“We’d be our own utility,” Gleason added, though he said third-party contractors would need to actively manage the wall, per the DHS’s request. He said the cheap, renewable electricity produced by the wall should “mitigate” political resistance over time, and increase property values along the border.

Gleason also said the panels sourced by his firm would be manufactured in the US, whereas a concrete wall would entail shipping “truckloads” of concrete from Mexico, along with the higher maintenance costs.

“Our intent is to offer a realistic, no-nonsense design for the wall that pays for itself that will make everybody happy, including our president,” Gleason said.

What The Wall Would Look Like On Both Sides

The panels on the proposed wall would be offset to avoid casting shadows, as solar panels are usually installed on roofs, not walls. The panels on the roof would move to track the sun.

Here is the Mexican view of the proposed wall. The solar panels are being staggered in order to prevent casting a showdow.

Another cross-section of the Mexico side of the wall. The panels would be set on a concrete foundation, with fencing above and below the panels.

And here is the view on the U.S.A. side of the wall. Certainly not as appealing as the Mexican side, but as the panels need to face south, there is really not much choice in how they can face.

The US side of the wall. Gleason says the wall would generate enough electricity to pay for sensors and border patrol stations along its length.

In Conclusion

The question is will the solar system work for the wall. Most say that the estimates are low at the cost to install and maintain the wall. That the efficiency of the solar panels, the amount of electricity that they will generate will only be 30-40%.

Overall it appears to be a good idea, at least it could offset some of the cost. President Trump says that he was going to get Mexico to pay for this wall, which most just don’t believe that it is possible to do.

I would not put anything past the President. The things that he has done in his life as a business man are amazing, so anything is possible.

Most people in the  country are in favor of the wall over other means of securing our southern border to stop the problems of illegal immigration, drugs, human trafficking and much more.

This is a good option that may need to be fine tuned before you have a totally working model for people to believe in and support. This is just a first pass at the idea, so lets see where it leads.

Reach out to us at nmsolargroup.com or call us at 5054156172.

Owning your solar in New Mexico is the way to go for the New Mexican.

Reach out to the growing and soon to be go to Albuquerque solar company, you will be glad that you did, we can save you money.

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