L R AS Published on Monday 17 May 2021 - n° 362 - Categories:various sectors

What if the silicon price hike was a retaliation against the call for human rights?

Following the example of the American SEIA, SolarPower Europe warns against forced labour and human rights violations in Xinjiang (western province of China, populated by Uyghurs)

where the silicon production plants are located. While acknowledging: "At present, there is insufficient evidence to confirm these allegations."


PV Tech of 14 May 2021

Editor's note Forced labour in Xinjiang has agitated human rights activists for several quarters on suspicion that working conditions there are inhumane. For the past three quarters, the price of silicon has been rising, sending all prices in the industry into a never-ending spiral. Could this be the answer of the shepherd to the shepherdess? Since Westerners are sensitive to human rights, do we want to make them pay for access to silicon and solar panels in general?

From Chinese authorities who are sensitive to their independence and freedom to do as they please, this response of higher prices would not be surprising. Westerners are in the business of human rights because they are rich and can pay for their pretence. For their part, the West has let the Chinese form a cartel of producers and cannot even build solar power plants any more because of a lack of panels!

SolarPower Europe, which initiated a document to warn against inhumane labour in Xinjiang, should think more carefully before launching its actions. A few years ago, this organisation campaigned for the bankruptcy of SolarWorld in order to promote the free import of panels into Europe, eliminating the only competitor of a certain size in Europe. By doing so, it deprived Europe of a certain counterweight to the industrial might of China.

When will this organisation make a bit more sense strategically? It is not enough to call for freedom for Xinjiang workers if the consequence is the restriction of panel deliveries and thus the European ability to get cheaper energy from RE! Generous ideas are nice but they should not make us forget Europe's interest. This is the second time that this organisation has worked against our interests. When will it open its eyes?

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