No form of electricity generation is “clean”.
And that also applies to renewable energies.
Of course, we know the environmental burdens that come with our reliance on fossil fuels: climate emissions, nitrogen oxides, water contamination. The list is lengthened increasingly.
In fact, a peer-reviewed study from 2021 indicated that exposure to fine particulate matter (directly associated with burning fossil fuels) resulted in 8.7 million deaths worldwide in 2018. That’s roughly equivalent to the whole population of Switzerland.
There are also the human rights abuses that come with our reliance on fossil fuels. From forced child labor in coal-fired power plants in Africa to individual oil companies funding local military personnel to assassinate environmental protesters, the fossil fuel industry has a long history of tyranny and violence.
But the renewable energy industry is not innocent either.
Yes, there are certainly environmental benefits that come with transitioning from fossil fuels to “cleaner” energy. But the dirty secret of clean energy is that it’s not as clean as some would have you believe.
In fact, the solar industry is getting a reminder of it this week.
Solar’s Dirty Secret
While solar inventory has received a nice boost thanks to the new climate bill, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have put in place protocols to ensure that solar panels imported into the United States do not have not made by slaves.
This falls under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which seeks to ensure that no U.S. company funds forced labor among ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
It is in this region that more than 100,000 Uyghur Muslims were held in internment camps and forced to manufacture a variety of products that are exported around the world…including solar panels.
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In recent weeks, these solar panels in question have been returned to China.
But this is where it gets interesting…
The Xinjiang region is responsible for around 40% of the world’s polysilicon manufacturing capacity, which is needed to produce solar panels. And while the United States seeks to end the region’s reliance on slave solar labor, China’s solar appetite is strong enough to keep these manufacturers operating.
Still, solar companies such as Trina Solar and JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) are likely to be affected as many of their solar panels have already been rejected by US authorities. And I predict that while demand for solar power will continue to soar — especially with this new climate bill in place — supplies will be short in the near term.
It’s one of the reasons I’m so optimistic about advanced solar technology being developed in the United States.
As this new “solar film” which can be affixed to any surface — including cars, buildings and windows — and generate electricity on site.
It essentially lets you turn any structure into its own power plant, generating its own electricity without the need for transmission lines, backup generators, or the onerous regulatory approval typically required for solar projects.
And it’s made in America, making it a darling of policymakers desperate to boost domestic solar manufacturing capacity.
The company behind this technology is also public and has had a very good run on its stock lately. I suspect this will continue too, that’s why I’m sharing this recent writing I did it on the company.
While there is no doubt that the demand for solar energy will continue to grow dramatically in the years to come, there will be only a few quality solar stocks to play on this momentum. Considering its technological edge and manufacturing capability in the USA, it’s definitely the one you don’t want to sleep on.
Towards a new way of life and a new generation of wealth…
Jeff is the founder and editor of Green Chip Stocks and Weekly Score. To learn more about Jeff, visit his publisher’s page.