Now Trump says he’ll get the Sun to pay for his wall on the Mexican border
By covering proposed border wall with solar panels ‘the higher it goes, the more valuable it is’, says US President
US President Donald Trump pitched a new concept to his supporters Wednesday for the wall he intends to erect on the Mexican border: cover it with solar panels - and use the energy to cover construction costs.
“Yes, we will build a wall,” he told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We have to stop the drugs from flowing in.”
“I will give you an idea that nobody has heard about yet,” he said. “The southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat. We are thinking about building a 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?” quipped the president, whose initial pledge to make Mexico pay for the wall has met with stiff resistance from America’s southern neighbour.
“Think of it, the higher it goes, the more valuable it is,” he enthused.
“Pretty good imagination, right? My idea!”
Trump also suggested the solar panels would make the wall “beautiful”.
The US administration put out a call for proposals several months ago for the construction of the border wall, one of which - submitted by a Las Vegas businessman named Tom Gleason - involved using solar panels.
The Trump administration has yet to make serious headway on the president’s emblematic but hugely costly campaign pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border.
Under pressure from Democrats, the US Congress has so far refused to commit funding to the project, agreeing only to finance maintenance on existing parts of the border fence.
The real funding battle will play out starting in October, when 2018 budget negotiations begin in earnest.
Trump’s first full-year budget, released in May, proposes a US$1.6 billion down payment for new and replacement sections of a border wall. The president has estimated that completing the barrier would cost US$8 billion to US$12 billion, though many experts say the actual cost would be far higher.
His proposal has been met with a cool reception in Congress, where lawmakers of both parties have questioned the utility and cost of a physical barrier across the entire 3,207km length of the border.
Trump’s speech in Iowa was the first time he has publicly described his proposal to build the wall as a solar power plant, though Politico previously reported that he privately floated the idea to Republican members of Congress in a White House meeting on June 6.
Gleason has claimed that a solar-power-generating border wall would pay for itself in 20 years, although this estimate assumed a reduction in the cost of solar panels. The estimate also fails to account for seasonal fluctuations in sunshine and the unevenness of the border.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg