Trump's Solar Wall

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cadbrowser
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Trump's Solar Wall

Post by cadbrowser » 2017-06-22 11:36am

President Donald Trump has floated the idea of building a "solar wall" on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a speech to a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, Trump reaffirmed that the proposed wall would be built and then teased the idea that it could contain solar panels.

"You know, people don't realize we're already spending a lot of money on design, but I'll give you an idea that nobody has heard about yet," the president said.

"We're thinking of something that's unique," he went on to add. "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, and that's good, right?"

According to reports, the idea of using solar panels on the proposed wall has been pitched by both academics as well as businesses submitting designs for the structure. Earlier this month, Politico and Axios reported that the president had suggested placing solar panels on the wall during a meeting with Republican lawmakers.

"You're the first group I've told that to," Trump said at the rally on Wednesday. "A solar wall – it makes sense, let's see, we're working it out, we'll see. Solar wall, panels, beautiful. I mean actually, think of it, the higher it goes, the more valuable it is."

The potential of solar is considerable. In 2014, the International Energy Agency said that, by 2050, the sun could be the planet's largest source of electricity. According to The Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census 2016, the solar industry was responsible for one in every 50 new jobs created in the U.S. last year, representing two percent of all new jobs.
Source: "CNBC News"

I honestly don't know really what to think about this. I mean, if Trump is serious, it seems on it's face like it might be a decent idea.

With the original 700 mile wall (of the roughly 2000 mile border) costing around $21 Billion, how much more would it be to add 700 miles of solar panels?

Looks like high efficiency units are roughly 77" x 39" with a peak of about 300 watts per panel. Not sure on cost. Source.

700 x 5280 = 3,696,000"

Vertical Mount :
3,696,000" / 39" = 94,769 Panels.
94,769 x 300w = 28,430,700 Watts or 28.4 Megawatts. Worth it?

P.S. No...I'm not a Trump advocate and I do NOT support the idea of a wall between US & Mexico.
P.P.S. I posted this in SLAM to discuss the scientific plausibility of the concept, not any political ramifications or sideline discussions. So if a mod deems this as needing a different place, feel free to move.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Darth Tanner » 2017-06-22 11:48am

Its not really a practical way of deploying solar, your transmission costs would be huge as your spreading lv equipment out over a line rather than clumping it around your transformers and inverter equipment. Also lots of it will be literally in the middle of no where where there is no demand so again your going to have to run hv lines to where the demand is. There would be no real reasonto put the solar panels anywhere near the wall other than a political need to make the wall make sense, you would be better off building a wall and lots of solar seperately then you can put the solar on domestic/industrial properties where it should be.

Also all the people climbing over it will likely reduce output from their shade.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-06-22 05:08pm

Not to mention potential vandalism of the wall.

Plus, you know, the wall will never actually get built. And Trump is too obviously allied with the fossil fuel interests for me to see this as likely to go anywhere.

Its just Trump throwing out another random thing on a whim/to confuse people.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2017-06-22 07:05pm

A border wall that can massively catch on fire seems about right for Trumpism in Action.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Adam Reynolds » 2017-06-23 12:34am

What is really odd about this is that it is a solution to a problem that he doesn't believe in.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-06-23 01:33am

Trump doesn't reject global warming because he thinks it's factually incorrect.

Trump doesn't believe in global warming because global warming isn't Donald Trump.

He is too stupid to comprehend things like "caring about green energy and denying global warming are mutually contradictory positions."

...

As for the wall, I will say there's one huge, obvious niche for LOCALIZED solar power on the wall: Providing electricity to all the air conditioning on all those remote wilderness-area guard shacks that are going to be required to make the wall work. There's no way this thing will function without large numbers of guards, and the guards need places to stay in some of the hottest places in America. Plus of course all sorts of communications and sensor equipment that will also consume electrical power.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by madd0ct0r » 2017-06-23 03:28am

I wouldn't go lithium - a big steam pipe running along the focus of a convex mirror with generators at the towns.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by mr friendly guy » 2017-06-23 05:00am

Realistically this will most probably never get built.

A part of me however wishes however that he did build it... from parts outsource from China (who have caused the price in solar panels to drop dramatically over the last few years). Then I can laugh at those who believed in both the wall working and Trump getting tough on China for "raping" America.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-06-23 07:32am

Sea Skimmer wrote:A border wall that can massively catch on fire seems about right for Trumpism in Action.
Although the image of the entire American border burning does seem a fitting metaphor for the Trump Presidency.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2017-06-23 09:12am

A few folks and I were joking when he won the election that since coal power was dead on economics anyway, the logical way for Trump to honor his campaign promises would be to build the wall as a burning pile of coal.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Ralin » 2017-06-23 09:15am

Guys, you don't get it.

Covering the Wall with solar panels means that Trump can brag that he's going to sell the electricity to Mexico to rub it in after he makes them pay for it.

Isn't it obvious?

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by mr friendly guy » 2017-06-23 10:00am

Someone pointed out the irony.

When Trump wants to support coal instead of renewables, Trumptards cheer. When Trump wants to build a wall with miles of solar panels, Trumptards also cheer. I think Trump's next masterplan is to suggest he builds Solar Freaking Roadways. The right would cheer no matter what he does, and the left will cheer because they don't understand the science or lack of it behind solar roadways. Its a master stroke, getting both sides of politics to support him.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Ralin » 2017-06-23 10:42am

That wasn't a joke, by the way. I follow a mock thread of posts from Free Republic on another forum and apparently that's an idea that's been making the rounds with the far-right regressive crowd. Along with the idea that solar power will make the Wall self-funding and supporting, thus making it harder for future Demonocrat majorities to kill it by cutting its budget.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by jwl » 2017-06-26 06:04am

Darth Tanner wrote:Its not really a practical way of deploying solar, your transmission costs would be huge as your spreading lv equipment out over a line rather than clumping it around your transformers and inverter equipment. Also lots of it will be literally in the middle of no where where there is no demand so again your going to have to run hv lines to where the demand is. There would be no real reasonto put the solar panels anywhere near the wall other than a political need to make the wall make sense, you would be better off building a wall and lots of solar seperately then you can put the solar on domestic/industrial properties where it should be.

Also all the people climbing over it will likely reduce output from their shade.
So use superconducting power lines to transmit the electricity around and use it as a demonstration of large-scale superconducting power lines. Win-win-win.

This is the kind of thing I meant when I talked about trying to harness trump to get stuff done rather than complaining about every single thing he does.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Darth Tanner » 2017-06-26 06:27am

Is Trump liable to get sign off on vast sums of money for no particular reason just because its related to 'the wall'?

I'm not even sure what you would do with a superconducting power line system to move wall mounted solar... you would need substations every couple of km so why bother with the superconductor basis of it when your going to spike your losses every plug in point?

Would you not be better not playing pin the tail on the imbecile and explain to Trump if its a good idea to put solar on a wall in the middle of nowhere its a good idea to put solar on the roof of your factory but much cheaper and more use so potentially completely unrelated to the wall.

CSP might work... but you would need the presumably largely south facing panels to track the sun to be taking meaningful steam from the pipeline... your then going to need to have one hell of a pipework system to move all that steam to the regular turbine point.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by LaCroix » 2017-06-26 08:01am

Trump most likely does not know that power gets lost in long power lines. Electricity comes out of the outlet, don't you know?
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by mr friendly guy » 2017-06-26 11:20am

jwl wrote:
Darth Tanner wrote:Its not really a practical way of deploying solar, your transmission costs would be huge as your spreading lv equipment out over a line rather than clumping it around your transformers and inverter equipment. Also lots of it will be literally in the middle of no where where there is no demand so again your going to have to run hv lines to where the demand is. There would be no real reasonto put the solar panels anywhere near the wall other than a political need to make the wall make sense, you would be better off building a wall and lots of solar seperately then you can put the solar on domestic/industrial properties where it should be.

Also all the people climbing over it will likely reduce output from their shade.
So use superconducting power lines to transmit the electricity around and use it as a demonstration of large-scale superconducting power lines. Win-win-win.

This is the kind of thing I meant when I talked about trying to harness trump to get stuff done rather than complaining about every single thing he does.
We already have UHV lines for this purpose. IIRC the old Soviet Union held the record while there was little need for the US to deploy such technology since city centres were relatively close to power generation sites. The only other country I know of that uses UHV lines on such a large scale is the country Trump accused of raping them on trade.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by jwl » 2017-06-26 11:41am

Darth Tanner wrote:Is Trump liable to get sign off on vast sums of money for no particular reason just because its related to 'the wall'?

I'm not even sure what you would do with a superconducting power line system to move wall mounted solar... you would need substations every couple of km so why bother with the superconductor basis of it when your going to spike your losses every plug in point?

Would you not be better not playing pin the tail on the imbecile and explain to Trump if its a good idea to put solar on a wall in the middle of nowhere its a good idea to put solar on the roof of your factory but much cheaper and more use so potentially completely unrelated to the wall.

CSP might work... but you would need the presumably largely south facing panels to track the sun to be taking meaningful steam from the pipeline... your then going to need to have one hell of a pipework system to move all that steam to the regular turbine point.
My way of doing it would be to have a MgB2 superconducting power line you are using anyway for power from other sources to run alongside the solar wall. You would then add a second superconducting wire inside the same cryogenic sheath which would run the power direct from the solar panels at production voltage to a few stations across the length of the wall, perhaps just one. They would convert the low voltage solar power to high voltage and then send it back along the main power transmission line. Adding the low voltage line would require more MgB2, but wouldn't make much difference to the cryogenic sheath, and that's where most of the cost of MgB2 power lines comes from.

^ Ultra high voltage lines are possible but don't address the problem I was trying to solve, which is the large number of transformers and such needed to step up the voltage of a very long solar array.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Darth Tanner » 2017-06-26 12:01pm

Thats not the problem with the solar wall though, a UHV is good if you have a lot of generaiton (like a Three Gorges Dam) in one area and a mega city like Beijing in another. With this you have a very thin strip of lv generation stretching 2000 miles.... thats not a good fit for anything, you can't step it up to hv or uv without skipping out all the other solar panels in between and using central locations to then ship it via uv will encur massive losses as your lv equipment is spread out over hundreds of miles inbetween central hv transformers

Just for example if you put a single solar panel thickness across the entire 2000 mile border fence using 250w panels that would only be a 814MW solar array with annual output of 1.4TWh... but you would likely need tens of thousands of inverters and transformers across that range as you can't have your panels too far from them. Running any UHV for 814MW would be crazy let alone running dozens to hundreds of them.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Darth Tanner » 2017-06-26 12:05pm

My way of doing it would be to have a MgB2 superconducting power line you are using anyway for power from other sources to run alongside the solar wall.
Can you plug lv inverters directly into a superconducting power line? What other sources are you intending to power from it? Where are you getting all the liquid nitrogen to keep it a superconductor?
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by jwl » 2017-06-26 12:22pm

Darth Tanner wrote:
My way of doing it would be to have a MgB2 superconducting power line you are using anyway for power from other sources to run alongside the solar wall.
Can you plug lv inverters directly into a superconducting power line? What other sources are you intending to power from it? Where are you getting all the liquid nitrogen to keep it a superconductor?
You don't need to do that, you just have normal wire coming out at the tapping out points where necessary. Although I think superconducting transformers are better than non-superconducting ones so it would be probably better to do that part inside the sheath. Other sources would be nuclear, wind, fossil, other solar, etc. that just happen to be nearby. The idea is, if the superconducting line works well on the level of the wall it would hopefully be extended to go across the rest of the American continents too, tapping into power sources and users along there. The cryogens would come from cooling stations but MgB2 lines don't use liquid nitrogen cooling, they use liquid nitrogen/gaseous helium combos or liquid hydrogen.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-06-26 12:34pm

The superconducting power line is the sort of thing that gets funded by governments that actually want to spend money on infrastructure. This does not include either the Trump Administration or the Republican-dominated 115th Congress.

I mean, I get the idea of "use Trump to do useful things." The problem is, Trump isn't useful to anyone except himself, and he's not even all that useful to himself now that he's doing a job where most of his core skill set is irrelevant.
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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by jwl » 2017-06-26 12:54pm

Simon_Jester wrote:The superconducting power line is the sort of thing that gets funded by governments that actually want to spend money on infrastructure. This does not include either the Trump Administration or the Republican-dominated 115th Congress.

I mean, I get the idea of "use Trump to do useful things." The problem is, Trump isn't useful to anyone except himself, and he's not even all that useful to himself now that he's doing a job where most of his core skill set is irrelevant.
But MgB2 power lines are projected to cost ~$2mil per km. If the trump wall does turn out to cost $21bn, you could add a 5000 km superconducting power line to go with it and you'd end up with only an extra 50% in cost. Also, a big project like that would appeal to Trump's ego.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by TheFeniX » 2017-06-26 12:56pm

How exactly does anyone plan to keep people on both sides of the border from stealing everything not nailed down? Even the stuff that is nailed down will be up for grabs. We run some "out in the middle of BFE" compressors and pumps. We use solar panels and windmills depending. Theft is our biggest "downtime" since they steal everything.

It was so bad at one unmonitored site, the local police had us grease the poles to keep people from shimmying up them to steal our motors/panels. There's literally a guy that goes out once a week or so with some kind of specialized pressure washer and hoses down our equipment with some kind of specialized grease. Because it's a crazy fucking world.

I'm not exactly gung-ho about dumping millions of tax dollars to donate tons of free copper to randos out on the border. I'm not big on dumping billions on a concrete wall either. There other vastly more intelligent ways to fight illegal immigration. And those have the added benefit of actually working and being a shit-load cheaper (or actually generate revenue, depending).

There's 3 ideas here:
"Build a wall"
"Solar Panel are good"
"Build solar panels on a wall"

2/3 of these ideas are fucking moronic and the only good one is sandwiched between them. You don't get credit for that in my book.

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Re: Trump's Solar Wall

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-06-26 02:13pm

If Trump's Wall counts as an unmonitored site from which people can steal equipment easily, it's going to fail its intended mission, whether it has solar panels to steal or not.

I'd bet on this happening, personally.
jwl wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:The superconducting power line is the sort of thing that gets funded by governments that actually want to spend money on infrastructure. This does not include either the Trump Administration or the Republican-dominated 115th Congress.

I mean, I get the idea of "use Trump to do useful things." The problem is, Trump isn't useful to anyone except himself, and he's not even all that useful to himself now that he's doing a job where most of his core skill set is irrelevant.
But MgB2 power lines are projected to cost ~$2mil per km. If the trump wall does turn out to cost $21bn, you could add a 5000 km superconducting power line to go with it and you'd end up with only an extra 50% in cost. Also, a big project like that would appeal to Trump's ego.
A lot of things appeal to Trump's ego, that doesn't mean he can make them happen. Getting a five or ten billion dollar project organized takes planning, focus, persistence. These are not qualities the Trump administration is strong on.

The wall itself appeals to Trump's ego far more than any modification to it could, and it is actually doubtful whether he will succeed in building it. Because this isn't like building a New York skyscraper. You have to create the infrastructure, both legal and physical, to permit the construction, not just get permits from the city and hire some contractors. You have to negotiate with Congress for funding year by year, not just with a bank for a one-time loan. You need to create a whole bureaucracy to manage the wall, not just arrange some tenants to rent space. Trump is out of his depth in doing all of these things.

Furthermore, Trump (as noted above) does not actually control the budget. Congress does. We don't know what kind of budgets are going to come out of the House of Representatives, but they are very unlikely to contain generous funding for any new large, interstate infrastructure initiatives.

Even his own allies regularly excuse his bloopers and bad decisions with "but he's a political novice, he doesn't know how things are done in Washington!" Well, guess what you need to know, in order to do in Washington what it takes to make a twenty billion dollar wall happen.

Trump can want whatever he likes, but he's stuck working with one of the most fractious, anti-government congresses in American history. The Republicans are having trouble repealing the ACA despite spending nearly ten years screaming about how terrible it was, it is literally that bad. They can't even manage that, not least because they have no idea how to actually construct a positive policy initiative as opposed to just tearing down other people's positive initiatives. And if the abysmal state of Congress weren't enough to stop Trump (it is), his administration has to deal with constant scandals, and is becoming a place no one with talent and self-respect would want to work for. Because Trump himself is a lying, mismanaging, waffling, nepotistic asshole.

He's not gonna get amazing "big, yuge" things done.
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