40% of UK solar panels made by Chinese slave labor in Xinjiang.https://t.co/iX4P2WPeta
— Steve Milloy (@JunkScience) April 28, 2021
Revealed: UK solar projects using panels from firms linked to Xinjiang forced labour
Solar projects commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, the government’s Coal Authority, United Utilities and some of the UK’s biggest renewable energy developers are using panels made by Chinese solar companies accused of exploiting forced labour camps in Xinjiang province, a Guardian investigation has found.
Confidential industry data suggests that up to 40% of the UK’s solar farms were built using panels manufactured by China’s biggest solar panel companies, including Jinko Solar, JA Solar and Trina Solar.
These firms have been named in a recent report on the internment of more than 1 million men and women from the Muslim Uyghur community, in what UK MPs on Thursday voted to describe as genocide.
Companies with factories or major suppliers in Xinjiang produce about a third of the polysilicon material used to make the world’s solar panels, according to a detailed report by the US consultancy Horizon Advisory. China is the world leader in polysilicon production.
The report found that Chinese solar companies had ties to indicators of forced labour in Xinjiang, where Uyghur are interned, via this polysilicon production.
China’s repression of the Uyghurs is believed to have developed into systematic detention about 2016, with reports of forced labour emerging from the region in the years since.
An industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Guardian that the industry was scrambling to distance itself from the use of forced labour, and that up to four in 10 of the UK’s existing solar farms were built using panels from the companies named in the report.
While many were built before 2016, the Guardian has found a string of more recent deals that raise questions about how carefully UK businesses and government agencies are vetting their supply chains.
Many manufacturers in China’s solar industry operate factories in countries across Asia but may still use the raw polysilicon materials produced in Xinjiang, making it difficult to determine whether a particular production line has been exposed to alleged labour exploitation. China limits access for outside observers and media to Xinjiang.