In late December 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which prohibits all imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China unless suppliers can prove that the products were not made with forced labor.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on behalf of the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force, has requested public comment on how best to ensure goods from the region made with forced labor do not enter the supply chain. American supply. Out of almost 200 commentsa handful of solar organizations contributed, including SEIA, the American Clean Power Association, Clean Energy Associates and US thin-film panel maker First Solar.
Solar has a role to play in this legislation because probably half of the world’s supply of polysilicon, the building block of crystalline silicon solar panels, comes from Xinjiang province. In June 2021, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a suspension order (WRO) on silicon products manufactured by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co., located in Xinjiang. Hoshine makes industrial silicon that other Chinese polysilicon companies use to make solar-grade polysilicon. The WRO has banned any solar panel product containing Hoshine materials from entering the United States.
Chinese solar panel companies such as JinkoSolar, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar and LONGi had materials detained under the WRO despite the companies claiming no forced labor and had material traceability guidelines as evidence. CBP has issued an update WRO Frequently Asked Questions in November, who said a solar company could reduce its risk of Hoshine WRO exclusions if it sources polysilicon from outside Xinjiang.
Yet it took more than eight months for the detained solar products to get out of CBP’s hands. Industry analysts Roth Capital Partners said in mid-February 2022 that hundreds of detained containers of LONGi solar modules (likely totaling 100MW bound for the US utility market) were eventually released by CBP, as well than “the vast majority” of prisoners. Trina solar panels.
The guidelines established in the Uyghur law on the prevention of forced labor should simplify this process.
In comments SEIA submitted to DHS, the advocacy group suggested promoting public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder processes dedicated to preventing forced labor; improve trade facilitation for importers who establish a demonstrable commitment to the prevention of forced labour; and establish new pre-detention procedures using existing enforcement tools to verify an importer’s commitment to preventing forced labor. Clean Energy Associates echoed SEIA’s suggestions and amplified the industry’s solar supply chain traceability protocol. The American Clean Power Association has described its own members to DHS ACP commitment to the prevention of forced labour.
First Solar said the best way to ensure goods made by forced labor do not enter the United States is to develop a strong home solar supply chain. Passing legislation such as the Make America Solar Act would “ensure a clean energy future without compromising America’s interests and principles.”
Within the next two months, DHS will hold a public hearing regarding comments received on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law. The established guidelines are expected to be presented by June 2022.
The UFLPA is enforceable for eight years, or until the President declares that China has ended “mass internment, forced labor and other gross violations of human rights…in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”.