UK solar industry backs anti-forced labour calls

50MW JBM solar-plus-storage site given green light

Published: 13 Apr 2021, 10:13

Members of the UK solar industry have voiced support for plans to develop a supply-chain transparency protocol to tackle concerns over forced labour.

In a statement, the collection of organisations – which includes the likes of Bluefield Partners, Lightsource BP and NextEnergy Capital – stated they “condemn and oppose any abuse of human rights, including forced labour, anywhere in the global supply chain”, adding they support applying the highest possible levels of transparency and sustainability throughout the value chain and are committed to the development of an industry-led traceability protocol to help ensure the supply chain is “free of human rights abuses”.

This statement was developed in consultation with industry members as part of Solar Energy UK’s ongoing supply chain sustainability workstream, with other signatories including Egni Co-op, Greencoat Capital, GRIDSERVE Sustainable Energy, Octopus Renewables, Centrica Business Solutions, JBM Solar, Joju Solar and Viridian Solar among others.

It follows a global collection of solar manufacturers, utilities and developers including SunPower, ENGIE North America, Tesla and LONGi signing a pledge to ensure the supply chain is free of forced labour. This pledge was signed by 175 companies and calls for more transparency in the supply chain in response to a report by consultancy Horizon Advisory that suggested that labour and resettlement programs in China’s Xingjiang region were linked with global polysilicon suppliers.

Commenting on the UK solar industry’s pledge, Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, said that this is a matter that UK industry members are “treating with the utmost seriousness”, although he added that making global supply chains as transparent and sustainable as possible “brings a significant degree of complexity”.

The full statement – which is still open to signatories – can be found here.

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