UK solar could be a ‘dumping ground’ for products of Xinjiang forced labour

The UK could become a ‘dumping ground’ for solar energy projects made by Xinjiang forced labour if the government rejects an amendment to the energy bill that will be debated tomorrow.

The amendment would require solar energy companies to prove that their supply chains are free of slave labour.

Foreign affairs select committee chair Alicia Kearns told the Guardian the revision to the energy bill would “help put an end to the UK becoming a dumping ground for slave labour-produced solar.”

“By adopting this amendment to the energy bill, they can ensure that nationally significant infrastructure projects are far more transparent and become freer from forced labour,” she added.

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It would also require the Planning Inspectorate in England to ban any nationally significant infrastructure project over 50MW if it could not be proven beyond doubt that slave labour had not been involved.

The news follows research by Sheffield Hallam University that found solar industry companies remain reliant on forced labour in the Uyghur region for key inputs.

The report found The Uyghur Region now accounts for approximately 35% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon, a key raw material in the solar photovoltaic supply chain.

According to The Guardian, China and segments of the UK’s renewable sector are expected to express strong discontent if the UK supports a proposed law that critics contend could effectively prohibit trade with the Uyghur region.

Critics argue that this amendment’s strict requirement for evidence of the absence of forced labour would essentially stop British trade with Xinjiang province.

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