Could Trump’s border wall be powered by solar?


Well, adding a 2-MW solar array and selling the excess power to Mexico could be one way to get our southern neighbor to pay for President Donald J. Trump’s “magnificent” border wall.

At least that’s the vision of Gleason LLC, a Las Vegas company that submitted a bid to build the project for the government.

How realistic adding solar panels is or whether Gleason would be capable of building the structure – the company’s website is a tangled mess of information and has no indication they have ever built any projects, let alone one as ambitious as the proposed wall – is unclear.

According to the company’s proposal, released by Gleason (the proposals are supposed to be kept secret), solar could power the wall’s lighting, sensors and patrol stations. Whether it would power the proposed tourist platform (one company has proposed such a platform so visitors can enjoy the desert views – reports of a possible gift shop could not be confirmed) weren’t known at press time.

Gleason’s proposal says the 2 MW system would sell excess power to utilities, which would cover the cost of its construction in 20 years or fewer. It also suggested additional power could be sold to Mexico, though no details on which Mexican utility would be willing to purchase it and risk alienating its customers.

“I like the wall to be able to pay for itself,” Gleason LLC’s Managing Partner Thomas Gleason told the Associated Press. ‘‘For the younger generation, they say if there is going to be a wall, let’s have it be green.”

Gleason offered no evidence to support that latter contention.

Given some of the conditions on being awarded the contract – that designs must prevent people from digging tunnels beneath the wall and that companies must have performed border security or similar projects worth $25 million or more in the past five years – Gleason’s design will likely be immediately rejected.

President Trump has also dismissed solar as unreliable and unworkable, as well as having removed any reference to solar from the White House website. So despite Thomas Gleason’s contention that the “younger generation” wants the wall to have solar panels on it, that might also make it a non-starter for the president.

Four of the 10 companies that submitted proposals will be chosen to build prototypes on federally owned land in San Diego as proof-of-concept projects. The winner of the project will be named June 1.

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