Finnwatch, a non-governmental organization released a research on 13.7.2021 on how Finnish solar energy companies could be linked to the use of forced labour in Xinjiang China involving the Uighur minority in the production of polysilicon. Salo Tech, the daughter company of Solar Finland was the only company responding to the research inquiries which manufactures solar modules in Finland. Finnish-made SALO® Solar Panels are made with monocrystalline silicon cells.
“We are glad that Finnwatch has looked into the responsibility matters related to the raw materials used in solar panels. As the research shows many companies in the business don’t know the origins of the raw materials in their products. A large portion of the solar panels marketed in Finland are made with polycrystalline silicon cells. We at Salo Tech reacted to Chinas possible human rights violations by switching to use solely monocrystalline cells in our SALO® Solar Panels.”, says CEO Esa Areva.
Salo Tech is a solar module manufacturing company based in Salo Finland. Local manufacturing in Finland is a strong factor in all responsibility matters. “We design and manufacture SALO® Solar Panels to withstand Finnish climate conditions. We also know our raw material suppliers. Companies based in Finland or elsewhere in Europe are preferred because they can provide us with all necessary raw material certifications in addition to which we also know the source and the amount of energy they use in the production. This helps us calculate the total carbon emissions for our own products as well. Several of our partners use renewable energy which is important for us also because we naturally want the carbon footprint for SALO® Solar Panels to be as small as possible.”
Silicon is needed in manufacturing conventional solar cells. Of all the solar modules imported in Europe over 90 percent are made with polysilicon that originates in the Xinjiang province in China. “After we heard that the manufacturing of polysilicon has ties to the Uighur area, we started a meticulous inspection of our supply chain. Subcontracting chains are long and cell manufacturers can often use raw material from more than one supplier simultaneously. Social responsibility is one of our key values and because of that, we switched to using only monocrystalline silicon in SALO® Solar Panels because it’s cleaner and the supply chains are easier to monitor. We could not reveal all our partners to Finnwatch because we were the only solar panel manufacturing participating in the research.”
Salo Tech monitors the power production of different solar panels on their own testing field. “Our long-time monitoring from the year 2020 showed that monocrystalline solar modules have a more efficient power production compared to polycrystalline modules. We are content in our decision to focus on monocrystalline modules because this way we can offer our customers newer, more efficient and more responsibly manufactured technology.”
“It is our wish that the research results from Finnwatch will also awaken the public. By choosing a Finnish product the consumer acts responsibly in many levels: the carbon footprint of the manufacturing of Finnish-made SALO® Solar Panels is smaller than that of imported modules. This also means that the environmental benefit of locally produced solar energy is greater”, Esa Areva states.
Link to the article by Finnwatch (in Finnish): https://finnwatch.org/fi/tutkimukset/862-aurinkosaehkoen-pimeae-puoli