Campaigning in Pennsylvania on Monday, Republican nominee Donald Trump went on an odd — but on-brand — rant against solar and wind. Trump appeared to occasionally conflate the two renewable energy technologies, and criticized both for being expensive.
“It’s so expensive,” Trump said. “And honestly, it’s not working so good. I know a lot about solar. I love solar. But the payback is what, 18 years? Oh great, let me do it. Eighteen years.”
In fact, the cost of solar has declined 70 percent since 2008, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the return on investment for a homeowner in California, say, is nine years. In New Jersey, it is seven years.
Solar is also the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, accounting for 64 percent of new capacity in the first three months of the year. Solar installations are set to nearly double in 2016 over the previous year.
After bashing solar, Trump turned to wind.
“The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that,” Trump said.
In fact, environmentalists often talk about wind turbine’s impact on birds, but many believe the relatively small number of bird deaths is worth transitioning to a clean energy economy.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) was quick to hit back on Twitter.
— American Wind Energy (@AWEA) August 2, 2016
Trump’s comments on renewable energy were not shocking, in the context of his campaign.
For starters, Trump has repeatedly said that he does not accept the science of climate change. He has pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. And he has made no secret of the fact that he isn’t exactly up on energy issues.
Earlier this year, in the midst of arguing for more natural gas exports, the candidate asked a reporter, “What’s LNG?” (That would be liquefied natural gas).
If Donald Trump Becomes President, The U.S. Will Stand Alone In One Depressing WayClimate by CREDIT: AP Photo/Scott Heppell A report released Tuesday shows that, if elected, presumptive Republican…thinkprogress.orgAs Paula Dwyer wrote for Bloomberg shortly after the exchange, “Not only do Trump’s energy policies misunderstand supply and demand in this market. He seems to be winging it, letting industry officials all but write them.”
Perhaps those industry officials, including Robert Murray, chief executive officer of Murray Energy, are the same friends Trump referred to during Monday’s speech in Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump Says He’ll Bring Back Jobs For Coal Miners But He’s Just Blowing SmokeClimate CREDIT: Shutterstock Donald Trump markets himself as a business-savvy billionaire who will get American jobs…thinkprogress.org“I have friends that own the mines. I mean, they can’t live,” he said. “The restrictions environmentally are so unbelievable where inspectors come two and three times a day and they can’t afford it any longer and they’re closing all the mines … It’s not going to happen anymore, folks. We’re going to use our heads.”
Murray has blamed coal’s decline on the Obama administration and on the natural gas boom.
In fact, much of the world is shifting away from coal-fired power generation, while, in the United States, the industry has become increasingly automated, decreasing jobs, even as the available coal is more difficult and expensive to access.
ThinkProgress was unable to confirm any instances of multiple mine inspections in a single day.
Mountaintop removal coal mining has also been tied to the near-extinction of some kinds of American songbirds. Trump did not address those bird deaths.