Stopping Forced Labor in the Solar Panel Industry with Reginald Smith
Updated: Jul 25
RL126 - Stopping Forced Labor in the Solar Panel Industry with Reginald Smith
Today on the Retirement Lifestyle Show, Roshan Loungani, Erik Olson, and Adrian Nicholson talk to Reginald Smith, a Research Analyst for Eventide. He is primarily responsible for evaluating and monitoring new and existing investment opportunities, focusing on clean energy. They discuss supply chain diversification, how China uses forced labor to make solar panels, and how conscientious investing can help stop China's use of forced labor.
[05:00] Getting to Know Reginald Smith
[10:50] Reggie's Passion For Investing in Human Flourishing
[13:40] Forced Labor in China: A Dark Spot for the Solar Energy Industry
[22:30] The 360 Approach to Investing
[23:20] Government Intervention Against Forced Labor
[26:14] The Three Main Steps in Solar Panel Production
[30:30] Do Sanctions Actually Stop Forced Labor?
[35:40] Key Raw Materials For Solar Panel Production
[38:38] How the Chinese Government Promotes Forced Labor
[41:00] Why You Need to Make Conscientious Purchase Decisions
[46:00] Solar is the New Oil
[48:20] Supply Chain Diversification
[52:00] Enforcing Tariffs and Sanctions to Combat Forced Labor
[55:20] How to Invest in Solar Companies
[01:05:50] Parting Thoughts
For more links and the full show notes keep scrolling down!
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Full Show Notes:
Forced Labor in China: A Dark Spot for the Solar Energy Industry
Climate change and the increasing adoption of sustainable energy have led to the massive growth of the global solar panel industry. And while this is a hugely positive step to combat climate change, it comes at the cost of forced labor and repression for a particular group of people in China. Most of the world's polysilicon, the main component used to make solar panels, comes from Xinjiang, China. According to Reginald Smith, the production of solar panels in Xinjiang uses forced labor from China's Uyghur Muslims. He says the mining and production process is achieved under a massive system of coercion and the constant threat of imprisonment. And it gets worse. The government is involved. And the government, through the Chinese Communist Party, pays companies and offers subsidies for companies to take forced labor. Reginald believes the only to stop this blatant human rights violation is to stop buying or investing in companies linked to forced labor.
Supply Chain Diversification
Supply chain diversification involves making changes aimed at broadening supply and transportation options. For example, if a manufacturing company sorely depends on a single supplier and the supplier goes out of business, it might find itself in a really tight spot. Branching out to more than one supplier cushions a company when circumstances change, allowing the company to adapt with almost no delays.
The pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict served as a stark wake-up call for companies that lacked supply chain diversification. And while a lot of things can disrupt your supply, Reginald believes having a robust supply chain can mitigate risks by ensuring you have a solid supplier base to cater to your business. It also makes it easy to drop companies that break the law, such as the solar panel forced labor in China. Because if you have options, you don't have to buy from companies that violate human rights.
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