Engineers Look to Southern Border for New Site of Renewable Energy Production

May 17, 2019

by ASME.org

A consortium of 27 engineers from more than two dozen different major U.S. research universities have prepared a proposal to counter President Trump’s call for a wall at the country’s southern border: in lieu of simply putting up a wall, instead line the border with almost 2,000 miles of clean energy power plants-namely those devoted to natural gas, solar and wind power, and water desalination. This is a plan that they say would heed the Republican Party’s calls for more border security, along with appeasing the Democratic Party’s calls in the Green New Deal.

While the idea of lining the southern border may at first seem far-fetched, the idea was in fact initially floated by President Trump back in 2017 during a meeting with members of congress at the White House. “There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that. Look, there’s no better place for solar than the Mexico border — the southern border,” he said at the time. “And there is a very good chance we can do a solar wall, which would actually look good.”

Engineers are now looking at the President’s initial idea, and doubling down on it. “Let’s put the best scientists and engineers together to create a new way to deal with migration, trafficking—and access to water. These are regions of severe drought,” says Luciano Castillo, a professor of renewable energy and power systems at Purdue University who leads the group. “Water supply is a huge future issue for all the states along the border in both countries.”

While the plan does not specifically address the issue of movement across the border, it does note that the size and scale of the facilities themselves, as well as the corresponding high-level security around the facilities would serve as a warning of any suspicious movement or activity in the area. 

To view the proposal in full, click here: 
https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2019/Q1/USMexico-Border-Proposal_WHITEPAPER-2019.pdf

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