President Trump claims he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in order to keep illegal immigrants out. Concerns have been raised over what exactly that would accomplish. Is it the wisest use of our tax dollars? What effect will it have on relations between us and our neighbor country?
Homero Aridjis, poet and environmentalist, and James Ramey, professor at Metropolitan Autonomous University and documentary producer are asking another question: what if instead of building a wall, we built a “solar border”? What if the solar border could provide solar to both countries at an affordable rate, could alleviate environmental burdens, safen borders, and repair possibly damaged relations between the US and Mexico? Some reasoning on their concept:
- Sunlight in the northern deserts of Mexico is more intense than in the US due to lower latitude and better cloud formations.
- Construction and maintenance costs for solar are substantially cheaper in Mexico.
- Power generated from these plants could power cities on both sides faster and more cheaply than similar arrays built north of the border.
- The U.S./Mexico border is almost 2000 miles long
- Solar plants planted on the southern border could immediately benefit San Diego, Tijuana, Mexicali, Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, San Antonio, Monterrey, etc.
- Depending on quantity of arrays, it’s plausible to expect sufficient energy would be produced to also supply Los Angeles, La Vegas, Albuquerque, Dallas, and Houston.
- Given the recent news that solar energy is already being generated at lower prices than those of coal, this would be an excellent way to produce cheaper and cleaner energy than many others.
- The grid could extend to the coasts, where energy produced could power desalination plants to produce fresh water, which could be pumped inland and to the CA central coast. Funneling water to the California Central Coast (where much of U.S. produce is grown) would alleviate drought effects, which has affected the area for many years.
- A solar “border” would also provide security to the areas around the solar plant, making it more difficult to traffick drugs, arms, and people in the area.
- The plant would create construction and tech jobs for both countries, which could absorb a significant number of migrant workers.
In short, investing in solar along the US/Mexico border would be an investment in our future with great benefit to both countries and indeed the global battle against climate change. Here's to hoping we can approach more ideas like this with an open mind!
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