President Donald Trump wants his border wall to do more than keep out the bad hombres, he wants to help the environment by slapping solar panels on the top.
“Think of it,” Trump told an audience this week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The higher it goes, the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination, right?”
If the idea sounds familiar, it's because solar panels are part of wall designs submitted by several companies. One researcher in Mexico, Prof. James Ramey, wants to take it a step further. He thinks it would be a good idea to scrap the wall project and, instead, spend the money on rows and rows of solar arrays.
"Their cost estimate is incredibly low, compared to what President Trump is proposing," he tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
It's estimated that the border wall would cost more than $20 billion. One solar wall estimate came in closer to $133 million. Prof. Ramey suggests a single line of solar arrays along the two thousand mile border would general enough electricity to power a half million houses, or more in Mexico, where energy use is lower per household.
Like the wall, he says the barrier would still work to cut down on illegal immigration, and he thinks it would be a bigger deterrence.
"It's actually harder to get over ten rows of solar panels than one wall," he explains.
Environmentalist Homero Aridjis, who worked with Prof. Ramey on the solar wall idea, says instead of separating the two nations, it would bring the U.S. and Mexico closer.
"Culturally, environmentally and socially. It’s important for the united states," he says
.At his Iowa speech, President Trump kept his campaign promise that, even with solar panels, Mexico would still pay for the wall.
"And this way," he told the crowd. "Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that's good, right?"