The engagement is part of an industry-wide effort led by the Solar Energy Industries Association that supports the development of a supply chain traceability protocol.
Some 175 solar companies, including some of the world’s largest solar power manufacturers, have signed a pledge against forced labor in the solar supply chain.
By signing the pledge, the companies are affirming their commitment to help prevent what they have termed “heinous practices” and to ensure that the products they use are unrelated to forced labor in the Xinjiang region. in China or elsewhere in the world.
The engagement is part of an industry-wide effort led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) that supports the development of a supply chain traceability protocol and an update to the solar commitment of the SEIA, which defines common practices and expectations for the solar industry.
John Smirnow, Vice President of Market Strategy for SEIA, said: “Forced labor will not be tolerated in our industry.
He said that given reports of labor abuse in Xinjiang and the inability to conduct independent audits there, solar companies “should immediately move their supply chains out of the region.”
He said SEIA has been asking for this for several months and expects “most of the major vendors” to be out by June 2021 at the latest. He said the industry organization “will continue to work with lawmakers, customs officials, the Biden administration and our international partners to ensure solar imports are proven to be free from forced labor.”
The pledge remains open for signatures, and all companies and organizations operating in the solar industry can join SEIA’s efforts. SEIA said it will continue to expand its coalition and build on this important work over the coming months.
ENGIE North America signed the pledge and its director of renewable energy, Laura Beane, said the company rejects “all forms of forced, compulsory or child labor.” She said the company prequalifies all suppliers, including performing detailed due diligence on major suppliers to validate that they meet the company’s code of conduct.
Zaid Ashai, CEO of Nexamp, said solar power growth “cannot come at the expense of human rights around the world.” He said Nexamp is “fully committed to doing everything possible to identify and assess the origins of the materials we use”.
Ashai said the company pays special attention to avoiding materials that may be linked to the Xinjiang region of China, where forced labor issues have been identified.
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