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If we were to build a fence along the US-Mexico border, why not build one that generates enough clean electricity to power entire cities! The US-Mexico border is 1,969 miles of potential clean energy. Wind turbines or photovoltaic solar could be built into the fence itself, therefore the fence would pay for itself over time.

Solar power (better)

The US-Mexico border is a very sunny place and integrating photovoltaic solar panels into a fence should be fairly easy, per se. Lets say that every square foot of solar panels produce around 0.85 watts per square foot for six hours a day. If we integrate 12,475,5840 sq. feet worth of photovoltaics into a stretch of 12 foot tall fence, 1,969 miles long, we could produce about 106,042 kW conservatively.

0.85 W x 12,475,5840 sq. feet = 106,042 kW x 1,753 hours = 186 gWh

That’s almost 186 gWh every year or roughly enough energy to power about 21,000 homes.

UPDATE: I’m awaiting an email from a Californian compony called Nanosolar who has produced a type of solar panel printing press, per se. Which promises to be less expensive than silicon photovoltaics.

Cost

I would guesstimate that this type of installation would cost around $954,378,000 about 33% more money then the current 3 billion dollar estimate.

Wind power (best)

The US-Mexico border is also quite a windy place and integrating wind turbines into a fence should be fairly easy, per se. Lets say that each wind turbine is rated at one-hundred kW yet the wind only blows at an average of 15 MPH so power generation is only at 20 kW or 20% maximum capacity.

100 kW x .20 = 20 kW x 8760 hours = 175,200 kWh – awea.org

Each wind generator would still produce 175,200 kWh every year! If we built 20, 100kW wind generators running at just 20% their maximum capacity, every mile. We could produce over 3,504,000 kW’s every mile or 6,899 gWh (Gigawatt hours) every year. That’s enough energy to power about 1,169,400 average US households!

Cost

For the sake of discussion lets guesstimate that each turbine costs about two-hundred thousand US dollars. I would guesstimate that this type of installation would cost around $7.8 billion US dollars or about 260% more money then the current 3 billion dollar estimate.

We could possibly even sell shares of the fence to companies, in return for initial startup capital.

Monetary Return

Since wind power and solar power only need wind or sun for fuel and very little maintenance. These types of installations should pay for themselves in less than a decade or a little over 8 years for wind power selling at $0.13 cents a kWh. When they really starts producing what is basically, free energy!

Environmental Return

Since most of the United States electricity demand is met by coal-fired power plants and 1 kWh of electricity produced from a coal powered station emits about 2.1 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Therefore by installing photovoltaics on the fence would remove about 397,526,257 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere every year or installing wind power would remove about 14,753,400,720 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere every year!

Conclusion

Though each type of installation would be expensive. With the help of initial start-up investments and the money the government was going to spend anyway, on the fence. The Installation of either photovoltaics or wind generators, on the fence, would establish the United States as the center of renewable energy production.

We need to act. We need to be able innovate again! Lets go out there and make a difference! Happy Earth Day!

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3 Comments

    • Chris Moran
    • Posted April 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm
    • Permalink

    Nice write-up. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

    • Dave Tap
    • Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:53 am
    • Permalink

    The concept is good but it would mean a fortune in power transmission costs and miles of cable. It would be a lot more practical if those same panels were just installed on building roofs so that existing load could be reduced and the existing service drops could be used to feed the existing power grid.

    • Ben
    • Posted September 14, 2009 at 5:45 am
    • Permalink

    I’m with Dave here. Unless there are people near enough to use the electricity, it’s pointless to generate it there. This would only make sense near border towns.


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