Past Features

June 8, 2017

Border wall with solar panels
--- that must face south

Artists rendering of what large caliber bullets might do to solar panels.
Business Insider -- June 6, 2017
Trump floated a solar-paneled border wall with Mexico — here's what it would look like
    President Donald Trump wants to deliver on one of the central promises of his campaign --- building a wall on the Mexican border.
    He's pitched Republican leaders on a proposal to cover the wall with solar panels and use the electricity generated to cover the costs of construction and maintenance.
    Thomas Gleason is the managing partner of Gleason Partners LLC, a Las Vegas-based architecture firm that submitted a proposal to the Department of Homeland Security that included solar panels. He told Business Insider on Wednesday that he had been batting around the idea of building a solar-paneled wall along the US-Mexico border "for months."
    Gleason, being in the construction business, said he knew a few people in contact with Trump, so he directed his firm to come up with a design and "get it in front" of the president after the DHS requested proposals.
    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.
    "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.

Glenn Spencer -- American Border Patrol
Solar Panels on the border --- limitations and risks
    Although there are variations to this, in general solar panels should be facing south. See: Intuitive Application for Solar Panel Electrical Power.
    In the case of the solar system proposed for the Trump Wall, Gleason Partners, LLC, has proposed a system that combines fixed panels with panels that move with the seasons - but they will be facing south. On the border between El Paso and San Diego, to fit within available rights-of-way, the panels and wall cannot be set back from the border --- they must be right on it. Solar panels might work on walls built atop Rio Grande levees, however.
    There would be no love lost in Mexico over these solar panel walls. Members of drug cartels are known to posses large quantities of high-powered weapons, including 50 caliber rifles.
    Huge solar panels right on the border might become a favorite target of unhappy smugglers --- and they could hit them from more than a mile away.