US Push for Indian solar growth raises concerns over Chinese forced labour components

  • Industry News
  • Feb 13,24
Longi Green Energy Technology Co, had faced repeated denials for its products in the US due to concerns about forced labour.
US Push for Indian solar growth raises concerns over Chinese forced labour components

Efforts by the United States to foster the growth of India's solar industry may inadvertently be allowing the entry of components manufactured with forced labour in China. An investigation by Bloomberg News, based on import records from India and the US, reveals that Waaree Energies, India's largest solar producer, has dispatched millions of solar panels to the US containing components from a Chinese company. This Chinese company, Longi Green Energy Technology Co, had faced repeated denials for its products in the US due to concerns about forced labour. The solar cells from Longi, produced in Malaysia and Vietnam, are integrated into Waaree panels deployed in solar farms across Texas and other states.

The importation of Waaree panels raises concerns about the effectiveness of US Customs and Border Protection officials in enforcing the ban on products linked to the repression of Uyghur people in China's Xinjiang region. Despite detaining thousands of shipments of solar panels from Chinese-owned companies since the ban's enforcement in June 2022, the agency's interventions can be overturned if companies provide evidence that their supply chains are free from Xinjiang sources.

This heightened scrutiny on Chinese products has created an opportunity for Indian solar producers. India exported nearly $2 billion worth of panels to the US in the first 11 months of the previous year, marking a fivefold increase compared to the entirety of 2022, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF.

Laura Murphy, co-author of an August 2023 report on the solar supply chain, expressed concerns in October, prior to her appointment as a Customs enforcement adviser at the Department of Homeland Security, that even panels labeled as ‘Made in India’ could potentially be affected by Uyghur forced labour. Her report highlighted the high risk associated with panels produced at Longi factories in Southeast Asia, as polysilicon from various sources in China is often blended together.

Longi, the world's largest solar producer based in Xi'an, China, did not respond to requests for comment. In response to Murphy's report, the company stated that it has established a separate supply chain for the US market, utilising materials solely from non-Chinese sources.

Waaree's sales director, Sunil Rathi, asserted in an emailed statement that the Indian company is compliant with the law and meets the stringent requirements of its customers wherever it operates.

Source: Mint

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