Unveiling the Truth: Ethical Solar Panel Manufacturing.

Solar energy is celebrated for its potential to reduce our carbon footprint and help combat climate change. However, as the demand for solar panels increases, it’s crucial to examine the ethical implications of their production. Unfortunately, the solar industry isn’t immune to practices such as slave labor and funding harmful activities like land mines. In this blog, we will explore the importance of ethical solar panel manufacturing, the dark side of the industry, and how you can make informed choices to support sustainable and ethical practices.

The Importance of Ethical Solar Panel Manufacturing

Ethical solar panel manufacturing is about more than just producing clean energy. It encompasses the entire supply chain, ensuring that every step, from raw material extraction to final assembly, adheres to ethical standards. This includes fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and transparent business operations.

Why Ethical Manufacturing Matters

  1. Human Rights: Ensuring that workers are treated fairly and humanely is a fundamental aspect of ethical manufacturing. This includes fair wages, safe working conditions, and freedom from forced labor.
  2. Environmental Sustainability: Ethical manufacturing also means minimising environmental impact. This includes sustainable sourcing of raw materials, reducing waste, and minimising carbon emissions throughout the production process.
  3. Consumer Trust: Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the ethical implications of their purchases. Companies that prioritise ethical practices build trust and loyalty among their customers, fostering long-term relationships.

The Dark Side of Solar Panel Manufacturing

Despite the benefits of solar energy, the manufacturing process can involve practices that are far from ethical. Here are some of the darker aspects of the industry that need attention:

Forced Labor in the Supply Chain

One of the most pressing issues in solar panel manufacturing is the use of forced labor. Reports have surfaced about the exploitation of workers, particularly in regions where raw materials like polysilicon are sourced. Polysilicon, a key component in solar panels, is often produced in areas with poor labor practices, including forced labor camps.

Example: Xinjiang, China, is a major producer of polysilicon, and there have been allegations of forced labor involving Uyghur Muslims in the region. These workers are reportedly subjected to harsh conditions and have little to no freedom, raising significant ethical concerns.

Environmental Degradation

The extraction and processing of raw materials for solar panels can also have detrimental environmental impacts. Mining for materials such as quartz and lithium can lead to habitat destruction, water pollution, and significant carbon emissions.

Example: In some cases, mining operations in developing countries do not adhere to environmental regulations, resulting in the degradation of local ecosystems and the displacement of communities.

Funding Harmful Activities

Another concerning issue is the indirect funding of harmful activities through the supply chain. Some companies involved in the solar panel supply chain may have links to activities such as land mine production or other forms of armament manufacturing.

Example: Certain raw material suppliers may use profits from their operations to fund illegal or unethical activities, including the production of land mines. This not only contradicts the principles of sustainability but also contributes to global conflicts and human suffering.

How to Identify Ethical Solar Panel Manufacturers

As a consumer, you have the power to support ethical practices by choosing solar panel manufacturers that adhere to high ethical standards. Here are some ways to identify and support ethical manufacturers:

Transparency and Certification

Look for manufacturers that are transparent about their supply chain and have certifications from recognised bodies. Certifications such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and ISO standards can indicate that a company follows ethical practices.

Tip: Check if the manufacturer provides detailed information about their supply chain on their website and whether they have third-party certifications.

Sustainable Sourcing

Choose manufacturers that prioritise sustainable sourcing of raw materials. This includes ensuring that materials are sourced from regions with strong labor laws and environmental protections.

Tip: Research the company’s sourcing policies and look for commitments to sustainable practices, such as using recycled materials or investing in renewable energy for their production processes.

Ethical Labor Practices

Support companies that have strong policies in place to protect workers’ rights. This includes fair wages, safe working conditions, and a commitment to eliminating forced labor.

Tip: Look for companies that have signed onto international labor standards, such as those set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Leading Ethical Solar Panel Manufacturers

Several solar panel manufacturers are leading the way in ethical practices. Here are a few companies known for their commitment to ethical solar panel manufacturing:


SunPower is recognised for its commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing. The company focuses on reducing its environmental impact through sustainable practices and is transparent about its supply chain.


  • Use of sustainable materials
  • Commitment to reducing carbon emissions
  • Transparent reporting on supply chain practices

REC Group

REC Group has a strong focus on sustainability and ethical manufacturing. The company adheres to strict environmental and labor standards and is transparent about its practices.


  • Use of sustainable and recycled materials
  • Adherence to international labor standards
  • Transparent supply chain reporting

What You Can Do as a Consumer

As a consumer, you play a crucial role in promoting ethical practices in the solar industry. Here are some steps you can take:

Do Your Research

Before purchasing solar panels, take the time to research the manufacturers. Look for information on their supply chain practices, labor policies, and environmental commitments.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask manufacturers or installers about their ethical practices. Ask where their materials come from, how they ensure fair labor practices, and what certifications they have.

Support Ethical Brands

Choose to support brands that prioritise ethical practices, even if it means paying a little more. Your support can help drive change in the industry and promote better practices.

Spread Awareness

Educate others about the importance of ethical solar panel manufacturing. Share information on social media, talk to friends and family, and encourage others to make informed choices.


The shift to solar energy is essential for a sustainable future, but it’s crucial to ensure that the production of solar panels aligns with ethical practices. By being aware of the dark side of solar panel manufacturing, such as slave labor and funding harmful activities, you can make informed choices that support ethical practices.

Choosing manufacturers that prioritise transparency, sustainable sourcing, and fair labor practices can help promote a more ethical and sustainable solar industry. As consumers, we have the power to drive change and support a future where renewable energy is produced ethically and responsibly.

Ready to make an informed choice for your solar installation? Contact Uncommon Solar today to learn more about our commitment to ethical solar panel manufacturing and sustainable solutions.