U.S.-based Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has come up with a tool to increase supply chain transparency. The mechanism is likely to help ensure that all solar components are made ethically throughout the solar value chain.
The Solar Supply Chain Traceability Protocol is a set of guidelines designed to help solar companies meet compliance obligations and provide customers with assurances that their solar products are free of unethical labor practices.
“Solar customers expect their products to be ethically produced, and this protocol helps ensure that solar products coming into the United States are not made using forced labor,” said John Smirnow, SEIA’s Vice President of market strategy.
“Solar is one of the cleanest and most reliable technologies on our grid today, and we hope this tool will give American buyers and leaders confidence at a time when solar energy increasingly supports our need to fuel economic growth and tackle the climate crisis,” he added.
As manufacturers begin using the traceability protocol, it will be regularly reviewed and updated to improve its usability and effectiveness, the association stressed.
In addition to the new traceability protocol, SEIA has finalized a comprehensive update to its solar commitment, which defines common labor, health and safety, environmental, and ethical standards and expectations for solar companies. The update modernizes the standard and now covers an expansive list of topics, including guidance on workplace safety and ethical labor practices.
According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2020 Year-in-Review report, released by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie, the U.S. solar industry grew 43% and installed a record 19.2 GW of capacity in 2020. The growing market share makes it all the more imperative to bring in ethical labor practices and compliance norms to ensure the smooth functioning of the sector.
In February this year, officials of several renewable energy companies in the U.S., along with SEIA, had pushed the Biden government to roll back an earlier increased tariff on solar panels to allow the solar industry’s progress in the country.
Srinwanti is a copy editor at Mercom India, where she writes and edits news stories across the clean energy spectrum. Prior to Mercom, she has worked in book publishing at Macmillan Publishing House and Integra and honed her editorial and writing skills in both online and print media such as Reuters, Times Group Books, The Times of India, and Pune Mirror, covering local to international stories. More articles from Srinwanti Das.