President Donald Trump’s bizarre vision of a “solar wall” to keep illegal refugees on the other side of the Mexican border and help pay for the construction of the 3,200km barrier, has lit a fire under stocks in the US, despite widespread scepticism it might ever happen.
Reneweconomy noted the talk about the “solar wall” a few weeks ago, but Trump was talking about it again this week and reports in the US say documents have been issued for expressions of interest for up to 5GW of solar that could be built along it.
Trump says that solar power could be exported to grids in the US and/or Mexico and the revenue used to pay for the project
As whacky as it sounds, shares of solar manufacturers rose sharply, with SunPower jumping 13 per cent, Canadian Solar up 7.7 per cent, JinkoSolar up 4.4 per cent and First Solar up 3.2 per cent.
While Trump was declaring an unlikely attachment to large scale solar power, he was also dissing wind energy, telling a crowd in Iowa that the lights might go out in a state that sources 33 per cent of its power from wind energy. The sector employs 10,000 people, five times more than the mining industry in that state.
“We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat,” Trump said, according to a Bloomberg report.
“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?”
Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov warns investors that Trump’s wall talk is not a good reason to chase the rally in solar shares: “Setting aside the broader question of whether the wall will even be politically realistic, the notion that it will be covered in solar hardware is entirely far-fetched.”
Bloomberg also noted that analysts were skeptical, saying it could take more than a century for solar panels to generate enough power to cover the cost of the wall.
But Jeff Osborne, an analyst for Cowen & Co. in New York, said the mere fact that Trump mentioned solar in positive terms is probably giving panel makers a boost.
“Just the the fact that he used the word solar in a sentence and that perhaps he is not entirely anti-renewables helps,” Osborne said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.