That’s the ambitious idea put forward by 28 prominent engineers and scientists across the continental USA, who have suggested a first-of-its kind energy park, spanning 1954 miles of the US-Mexico border.
The park would bring energy, water, jobs and even improved border security to the area.
The audacious nature of the plan involves the two countries working together on a giant infrastructure project that combines solar, wind, natural gas, and desalinisation.
The facilities, according to researchers would improve border security, as they would need to be well-secured and maintained. The energy park would also help stimulate the economy by drawing in new businesses into the surrounding area.
Luciano Castillo, Purdue University's Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems, and lead for the consortium, says the mega infrastructure plan would be historically significant if enacted.
"Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century," Castillo says. "It would do for the Southwest what the Tennessee Valley Authority has done for the Southeast over the last several decades."
Ronald Adrian, Regent's Professor at Arizona State University and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, says the proposal represents a big challenge, but one worth investigating in greater detail.
"At first blush the idea seems too big, too aggressive, but consider the Roman aqueducts or the transcontinental railroads—enormous undertakings that gave enormous benefits. The cost of providing basic, essential infrastructure to the border lands is tiny compared to the opportunities it creates," he said.
"I view this project as a means of creating wealth by turning unused land of little value along the border into valuable land that has power, water access and ultimately agriculture, industry, jobs, workers and communities. With only a wall, you still have unused land of little value."
Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Regent's Professor at Arizona State University, says a cooperative effort between the two nations to address border issues would help reinforce cultural ties.
"The USA-Mexico border is home to families with common bonds, large Spanglish-proficient communities, talented creative large pools of young people, intersecting cultural ties and more. These communities have faced day and night similar ecological, health, education, energy, water and security challenges," Castillo-Chavez says. "They know that solutions must address these challenges across both nations. There are no effective single-territory solutions."
The plan was first reported by Scientific American; the full proposal is available online.