President Trump made a pitch for solar energy development, a rarity for him, in a Wednesday speech in which he suggested installing solar panels along his proposed wall across the Mexican border. He made these remarks while leading a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in which he also touted his “amazing progress” at enacting his agenda and lambasted Democrats for obstructing him.
The wall was one of his signature campaign promises, but so far he has not been able to scrape together the estimated $8 billion to $12 billion it would take to complete the 1,933 miles-long structure. Mexico has refused his demands to pay for it, and the federal spending resolution that Congress passed in May does not allocate the required funds for it.
Trump told his Cedar Rapids audience that solar panels would dramatically bring down the wall’s costs. The electricity generates would pay for the costs of wall construction and maintenance.
“We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border. Lots of sun,” Trump said. “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. Is that good?”
Trump has floated the idea before. He made a solar wall pitch to Republican Congressional leaders on June 6.
This proposal would be a rare instance of Trump endorsing renewable energy. His federal budget proposals cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 69%, and he’s repeatedly advocated for strengthening the U.S. fossil fuel industries while warning that expanding renewable energy infrastructures would lead to “blackouts.”