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Evidence grows of forced labour and slavery in production of solar panels, wind turbines

December 1, 2022

By Paul Homewood


Meanwhile the Net Zero lobby simply shrugs its shoulders:




The Australian clean energy industry has warned of growing evidence linking renewable energy supply chains to modern slavery, and urged companies and governments to act to eliminate it.

A report by the Clean Energy Council, representing renewable energy companies and solar installers, has called for more local renewable energy production and manufacturing and a “certificate of origin” scheme to counter concerns about slave labour in mineral extraction and manufacturing in China, Africa and South America.

Released on Tuesday, the paper said slavery in all supply chains was a global problem. But Australia is on a trajectory towards generating the vast majority of its electricity from solar, wind, hydro and batteries by 2030 and needs to play an active role in addressing it in renewable energy industries.

“We’re at a moment in time when renewable energy supply chains are going to be scaling up significantly,” Dr Nick Aberle, the Clean Energy Council’s energy generation and storage policy director, said. “That means now is a critical opportunity to shape the future direction of those supply chains.”

The report cited detailed allegations of forced labour and slavery in supply chains for solar and wind energy and battery storage. Examples included that:

  • About 2.6 million Uyghur and Kazakh people have been subjected to coercion, “re-education programs” and internment in the Xinjiang region of north-west China, which is the source of 40-45% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon. A report by the United Nations office of the high commissioner for human rights three months ago found Xinjiang was home to “serious human rights violations”, and the US has listed polysilicon from China as a material likely to have been produced by child or forced labour.

  • On batteries, there were major issues with the mining of between 15% and 30% of the world’s cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amnesty International found that children, some as young as seven, were working in artisanal cobalt mines, often for less than $2 a day. Mining conditions were reportedly hazardous, and workers often did not have adequate protective equipment and were exposed to toxic dust that contributed to hard metal lung disease.

  • On wind energy, there had been rapid growth in demand for balsa wood used in turbine blades that had reportedly led to workers in Ecuador’s Amazon region being subject to substandard labour conditions, including payment being made with alcohol or drugs. The demand for balsa has also reportedly increased deforestation, and affected the land rights of Indigenous people in Peru. Some balsa wood suppliers have more recently provided Forest Stewardship Council certifications, which verifies responsible forest management and fair wages and work environments.

NSW’s anti-slavery commissioner, Dr James Cockayne, said urgent action was needed to address “the severe modern slavery risks in Australian renewable energy supply chains and investments”.

“We need to see industry, government, the financial sector and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy,” he said. “If we don’t, modern slavery risks significantly complicating the just transition to a decarbonised economy.”

  1. December 1, 2022 5:08 pm

    Forbes did an article on this a couple of years ago. As I point out to people clamouring for ‘renewables’ it is well known that child labour is used to dig out rare earths and that coerced labour make batteries and solar panels and that solar panels use vast amounts of coal and 85% are now made in China who control most of the rare earths and have no intention of decarbonising..

    It makes not a blind bit of difference. The moral and ethical and trading dimensions seem lost when the words -green energy- are muttered. As you rightly say;

    “Meanwhile the Net Zero lobby simply shrugs its shoulders:”

  2. December 1, 2022 5:26 pm

    We have brought up this issue at planning applications and public inquiries. But use of slave and forced labour are not a planning issue and so are ignored when decisions are made. Developers do not care, they are only interested in getting consumers’ money by whatever mans thy can.

  3. Dave Ward permalink
    December 1, 2022 6:27 pm

    Batteries DO NOT “generate” electricity, they merely store it (and waste a proportion in the process)…

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      December 1, 2022 8:50 pm

      Ah, but if you switch to hydrogen as a store of electricity then you will waste a much bigger proportion.

  4. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 2, 2022 10:07 am

    Greens and Progressives are far more interested in slavery from 150 years ago than anything that’s happening today. Come back in a century or two and they might care.

    • Mark Hodgson permalink
      December 2, 2022 10:20 am

      Phoenix44, you beat me to it. There are many serious problems facing humanity today, including slavery and child exploitation, and environmental degradation, all made worse by net zero and the “green” lobby. Point it out and the more brazen among them will accuse you of misinformation, failing which the response is “Move along, nothing to see here.”

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        December 2, 2022 1:36 pm

        It is all now performance, with the audience being other Progressives because they care about neither the people they pretend to help nor the views of those outside their bubbles of Groupthink. Thus we have supposed committed Leftists enthusiastically enacting policies that can only harm the poor – London’s ULEZ say, that forces the poor out of their cars and on to public transport whilst the rich get less busy roads. All justified by tearful claims about air pollution that have no validity whatsoever and that don’t ask whether the poor would rather keep their cars and take their chances. Indeed, such policies should have to be voted on by the poor and the poor only as this is done in their name.

  5. December 7, 2022 4:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Calculus of Decay .


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