Monday, February 20, 2017

Real Politics

Real politics involves developing a package where all major stakeholders gain something.

A map showing the solar power potential of the region immediately adjacent to the US-Mexico border.
I suspect that many of the political alliances that are currently dead-set against a wall between Mexico and the United States would be deeply conflicted if the wall were topped by solar panels and the power production were split between Mexico and the United States 28%:72% (the population ratio between the two countries at this time).

Furthermore, I think the solar panels should be installed over a 15 year time-span where the contracts were let on five, three-year segments to better exploit technical advances and production efficiencies.  A long installation period also means that the panels will reach the end of their productive life over an extended period of time and the replacement schedule will be spread out over time.   Bidding would be open to any company with production facilities in the US or Mexico.

How much power?
A 1500 mile wall topped with a 2 meter wide (about 6') solar panel that is tilted in a fixed, optimum orientation will intercept an average of 28,800 megawatt-hours of solar radiation per day.  At 13% efficiency that equates to an average of 3,700 megawatt-hours of electricity per day.  More in the summer.  Less in the winter.

The most recent nuclear generation unit to go on-line in the United States is Unit Two of the Watts Bar station.  It has the ability to produce about 28,000 megawatt-hours per day, or is about seven times larger than the Mexico-US wall proposal.

A cross section of the wall as seen from Texas.  Obviously this has a tilt to the right.
A cross section of the wall as seen from California.  Obviously this has a tilt to the left.
How could this proposal possibly fail?

Hat-tip to Charles Hugh Smith

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