The New York Times article "China’s Solar Dominance Presents Biden With an Ugly Dilemma" details the challenges facing the Biden administration as it aims to dramatically increase the number of deployed solar modules in the US and simultaneously curb the use of forced labor in the solar supply chain. You can read Executive Director Michael Parr's Letter to the Editor responding to this piece on the New York Times website, here.
To the Editor:
Re “Dilemma for the U.S.: China’s Solar Sway” (Business Day, April 21):
If the solar industry is going to continue to thrive, it needs transparency and sustainability throughout its supply chain. The industry’s success is crucial to tackling climate change and growing the U.S. economy. Recent revelations of human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region — the epicenter of polysilicon production for solar panels — is a wake-up call to the entire industry. Forced labor is abhorrent and has no place in our world, much less the solar industry.
Additionally, solar component factories in Xinjiang use predominantly dirty coal power for their operations. This is needless pollution at a time when governments and businesses are looking to decarbonize their supply chains. Fortunately, there are numerous ultra-low-carbon solar panels from sustainable supply chains.
As the debate about a national clean energy plan advances, policymakers and corporate buyers can send a strong market signal that the next tranche of solar manufacturing should be devoid of these untenable practices by buying better solar. After all, shouldn’t solar be truly sustainable?
The writer is the executive director of the Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance, an alliance of solar manufacturers.