The solar power push depends on the region in China that is linked to the Uyghur massacre

According to the new report, companies and governments with emphasis on solar energy are facing a previously ignored path.

The industry’s solar power supply chain is heavily reliant on Xinjiang, a Chinese region the US government and others say is the scene of a massacre against local ethnic Muslim Uygar residents, The Wall Street Journal said.

At issue is polysilicon, an essential component of most solar panels, that comes from the region in northwestern China, where human rights groups and US officials say China is in the interior camps occupied by more than a million militants. Dispersal drives the network.

Experts in the renewable energy industry say they that Xinjiang, which accounts for about half of the world’s supply of polysilicon, as well as other essential materials, may have links to forced labor.

In recent months, global pressure has been to curb trade with Xinjiang, as both the US and the European Union are weighing legislation that could lead to import restrictions on products from the region, including polysilicans. In January, the US had already banned cotton and tomato imports from the region.

Many Western solar companies are already working to cut their exposure to the area, fearing that their industries will be in the next crosshairs.

Demonstration in Turkey against the oppression of Uygars in Xinjiang.
Demonstration in Turkey against the persecution of Uygars in Xinjiang.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

Zaid Ashai, the chief executive of Boston-based Nexamp, which purchases solar panels and other components from China and elsewhere for the US, told The Journal that it has become impossible to send independent auditors to Xinjiang. He said that yet Nexamp plans to continue purchasing from Chinese suppliers and hopes the industry can create a tracking system to ensure nothing in Xinjiang.

According to The Journal, in a draft report looking for forced labor, US-based consulting Horizon Advisory said it found in public records and Chinese media reports that all four of the region’s large polysilicon manufacturers have ties to activities or entities that are external Experts are concerned with forced labor in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has denied that forced labor is being done in the region, stating that its activities in Xinjiang are aimed at combating terrorism and building livelihoods. A government spokesperson told The Journal that if Western solar companies stop doing business with China, it is their loss.

A worker produces polysilicon quartz rods.
An essential component for most solar panels is polysilicon.
Barcroft Media via Getty Image

Tensions over Xinjiang are spreading to other industries as well. Chinese social-media accounts had launched online protests and boycotts of Western clothing brands such as H&M and Nike that moved away from using Zaibana cotton.

Investment bank Roth Capital Partners warned investors in a February note that US may be on the horizon.

The note states, “when it must have been turning to Xinjiang”

Given the lack of transparency, experts say the only way to clean up their supply chains is to avoid the sector altogether.

A photovoltaic power plant in Xinjiang.
Many Western solar companies are already working to cut their exposure to the area, fearing that their industries will be in the next crosshairs.
Barcroft Media via Getty Image

“I don’t want to accept anything” moving the supply chain out of Xinjiang, said Suzanne Leta, head of policy and strategy at US Solar Installer SunPower Corp and a board member of Seiya.

Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican who co-sponsored the Senate’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, as well as a recent bill that would ban all government purchases of Chinese solar panels, Publicly called Decompiling the American Economy from China.

The bill, titled “Keep China out of the Solar Energy Act,” bans the use of federal money to buy solar panels from the Communist: Scott Previously said in a statement this month. “It sends a clear message to Secretary-General Xi that the United States will not turn a blind eye to its genocide and human rights abuses.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.