How Environmental Groups Are Responding to Trump’s ‘Solar Wall’ Pitch

President Donald Trump’s idea of putting solar panels on his long-promised border wall hasn’t gained a lot of support among top environmental lobbying groups—even though the organizations have long backed solar power as a key renewable energy.

“The problem with talking about solar panels on Trump’s border wall is that it’s science fiction,” Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, a liberal environmentalist group, told The Daily Signal. “Just like clean coal does not exist and will never exist, Trump’s wall with solar panels won’t exist, so it’s irrelevant to discuss climate issues.”

A spokesman with the Sierra Club referred to a tweet storm by the Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune, reacting to Trump’s proposal for solar panels on the border wall.

Speaking Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump proposed putting solar panels on the wall. Such panels would capture power along the hot southern border, to help increase the power supply, which the president said would help pay for the wall.

“We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border, lots of sun, lots of heat. We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money,” Trump told the Iowa crowd.

“And that’s good, right? Is that good? You are the first group I’ve told that to. A solar wall. It makes sense. Let’s see. We are working it out. Solar wall panels.”

Trump added: “Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.”

There would likely be more effective ways to pay for the wall, said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-border enforcement think tank.

“It is one of the sunnier parts of the country, but solar panels are fairly fragile,” Camarota told The Daily Signal. “Each illegal border crosser has a cost of about $75,000 for taxpayers. A modest reduction in border crossings could help pay for the wall.”

Camarota, who believes interior enforcement is perhaps more important than the wall, said the reduction in needed law enforcement and health costs from drugs not entering the country would also offset the costs.

There are too many uncertainties to know whether this would cover the cost of the border wall, said Nick Loris, a research fellow in energy and environmental policy at The Heritage Foundation.

“It’s entirely too early to tell and there are too many outstanding questions. If the solar panels are subsidized, we’re just paying for them through another mechanism,” Loris told The Daily Signal. “It’s difficult to know what the solar panels would cost, how much energy they’d produce standing vertically as opposed to angled horizontally like you see at a solar farm or a rooftop.”

It would require additional building, Loris said, adding:

You also have to factor in the transmission lines to take the energy from remote places to where it’s needed. There’s repair, replacement, and waste costs. They’re also not very efficient compared to other forms of energy, which is why they only account for a meager 2 percent of our net electricity generation, even with generous support from the taxpayer. There’s a lot of question marks surrounding the project so that it’s difficult to know how costly or beneficial it would be.

Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined “A Shiny Border Wall That Pays for Itself” by Vasilis Fthenakis, an earth and engineering professor at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University, contends:

Resolving the political impasse between Mexico and the U.S. over a border wall requires innovative thinking. How about this: Presidents Donald Trump and Enrique Peña Nieto should work together to construct a ‘solar wall’—a massive string of photovoltaic panels—on the Mexican side of the border.

Read more at Daily Signal

Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    It’s a funny joke. No need to go ahead with it.

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    Stupid stupid Greenpeace their already in hot water in Peru for ruining the Nazca Plain with their stupid message they mess up Mt Rushmore with a picture of double ugly Obama they sail all over the world in their fossil fuel powered ships(Arctic Sunrise,Rainbow Warrior II)they luanch their annoying zodiacs and their dumb enough to fall for anything Why heck they even were dumb enough to claim the Dec 26 Tsunami was becuase of Global Warming

  • Avatar

    G

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    Quote from OP:

    “Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, a liberal environmentalist group, told The Daily Signal. “Just like clean coal does not exist and will never exist, Trump’s wall with solar panels won’t exist, so it’s irrelevant to discuss climate issues.””

    Oh the irony… One could just as easily say, “Just like man-made global climate change does not exist and will never exist, so it is irrelevant to discuss a solar border wall.”

    There IS one thing to be learned here from this granola-crunching leftist however… There is power in saying, “I don’t accept the PREMISE of this fraud”… There is no need to deliberate the millions of manufactured fine points the left loves to toss out if the very premise is incorrect to begin with. This is how leftists build false credibility; by NOT arguing the underlying premise, but by leading debate down endless rabbit holes.

  • Avatar

    John

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    He isn’t the first to want and start building a wall. 1000 km is already there.
    But have it pay for itself by solar power is utter green dreaming and a fairy tale.

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