A Solar Wall: One Way to Make Mexico Pay
January 6, 2017
PEOTUS unhappy that media is pointing out he is asking Congress/taxpayers to pay for his wall.
Jigar Shah has a modest proposal.
.. lets start with some basics. The average commercial solar panel is 2 meters by 1 meter (actually 77 inches by 39 inches). The border with Mexico is roughly 2,000 miles or about 3,200 kilometers. If you position the solar panels on the wall with one single row with the short side down, you get about 3,200,000 panels or about 1,000 MWs of solar power. According the Washington Post, the wall with Mexico could be 65 feet high (19.8 meters). So you could technically flush mount almost ten (10) solar panels onto the wall, but most likely you would only have five (5) to optimize production per solar panel.
(That) means you could put almost 5,000 MWs of solar panels on the wall. According to PVWatts, the wall would produce over 6,600,000,000 kilowatt-hours. At about six (6) cents per kilowatt-hour (typical cost of electricity from natural gas and coal plants in the USA) the electricity would be worth about $396,000,000 per year. Over the 40 year life of the solar panels, the solar panels would collect over $15,840,000,000 – not counting the tax credits already in place for solar, low cost debt from the North American Development Bank or escalating value of daytime power in Mexico.
That same Washington Post article quoted the President-elect saying that he thought the wall could be built for $12 billion. So if the power were to be sold to the Mexican people – power they desperately need – then the President-elect could actually make good on his promise to say that the Mexican people paid for the wall (as John Carney suggested). Also with 2,000 miles available, the technology sponsorship models would be endless. There is so much good technology coming out of the Department of Energy that needs to be commercialized, what better place then at the wall?
Moreover, given that the solar industry alone has created one out of every 80 jobs in the United States since the great recession, this is a project the solar industry is well staffed to happy to help with. The solar industry needs to change the conversation to align with the deep emotional and aspirational narratives that speak to the American public. With the wall, clean energy would feel as all-American, cutting-edge, rugged, reliable, resilient, and tough as fracking. The same American ideals of independence, freedom, self-sufficiency, and opportunity can bring together green advocates and Tea Party stalwarts, labor and entrepreneurs, main street and Wall Street.
Independence is the heart of American identity. Clean energy is independence turned into electrons: the application of cunning, sweat, and ingenuity to harness the restless power of the American landscape.
With 75% of all new electricity generation coming from zero-emission sources this year and expect each year for the next four years, the American energy economy is changing, and changing rapidly. Solar energy (and others) is where the growth is happening. Time to tap into the billions of dollars solar can move into infrastructure ($45 billion in 2016 alone).
By rebranding clean energy, we can empower all Americans to work together for a stronger future. It’s time to get down and dirty.