Senator Hollie Hughes said a vast proportion of solar inverters in Australia were being manufactured and provided by companies with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Australia’s Climate Change and Energy Department has been questioned about the security risks of solar panels to the national electricity grid amid the federal Labor government’s push to achieve net zero emissions via renewable energy.

During a Senate Estimates hearing earlier this month, Hollie Hughes, a Liberal senator for New South Wales, raised the issue that overseas malicious actors could manipulate Australia’s power system via the smart inverters used in many solar panels in the country.

“We have a significant number, a vast proportion of solar inverters that can be controlled by an outside player and are being provided and manufactured by companies with very strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party.”

“This is a matter of national security,” she said.

The Senator then questioned whether there was any discussion among government departments about ensuring that the national grid was not compromised by solar panels’ technical issues.

In response, Martin Squire, the acting division head for the Energy Performance and Security Division of the Climate Change Department, said his department and the Home Affairs department had worked to develop the government’s cybersecurity strategy, which included consideration of the security risks of solar panels.

“We’ve established a particular team looking at security issues associated with distributed energy resources, so rooftop solar, as the example just cited, but also the applicability to other forms of technology used behind the meter in the home: batteries, EVs (electric vehicles), chargers, etc,” he said.

Mr. Squire also noted that his department had commissioned Standards Australia, a non-government standards development body, to conduct a cyber standard mapping and gap analysis as well as develop a roadmap for the government to tackle security issues related to renewable technology.

“Part one of that project has been completed, and the second stage of the project, which we’re in the process of commencing, will look at the development of cybersecurity standards for the Australian market in particular,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Climate Change Department acknowledged that security issues were not the focus of its work.

“Our department is really focusing on issues around standards and our technical solutions, and we work with other entities to assist us with that,” said Climate Change Department Secretary David Fredericks.

Sounds like Sir Humphrey Appleby, doesn’t it?

Senator Hughes also raised concerns about the involvement of modern slavery in the production of solar panels in China, especially the forced labour imposed by the CCP on the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang.

The Senator questioned whether the Climate Change Department had implemented any measure to ensure that the solar panels imported to Australia were not products of forced labour.

Climate Change Department Deputy Secretary Simon Duggan said his government abided by domestic laws in procuring solar panels for the energy transition.

“As a department, we do abide very, very closely by the modern slavery laws, and we do take advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and try it on the application of that law to the energy sector,” he told the Senate Committee.

However, the deputy secretary stated that it was not his department’s role to determine whether there were elements of modern slavery in the solar panels’ supply chain, noting it fell under the role of DFAT.

So, this is also someone else’s responsibility!

Senator Hughes believes the government should formally review its renewable energy strategy relating to modern slavery and its possible impact on imported solar panels.

According to the IEA, Xinjiang accounted for 40% of the global production of polysilicon, the core material of solar panels.

The U.S government has pointed out that polysilicon is being produced by Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities under conditions of forced labour.

In late 2022, it blocked over 1,000 shipments of solar energy components from China due to concerns about forced labour.

Senator Hughes’ statements come as the CCP has emerged as a major risk to Australia’s net zero transition.

In 2021, it was reported that around 80% of all solar panels in Australia were Chinese-made, and 90% of imported solar panels were produced in China.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the International Energy Agency indicated that China’s share in all the key manufacturing stages of solar panels worldwide exceeded 80%.

The IEA also predicted that China would account for 95% of the production of key materials for solar panels, such as polysilicon and wafers, in the coming years.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen has admitted that the dominance of China in the global supply chain of solar panels posed a risk to Australia. However, he and his department appear to be totally disinterested in doing anything about it – in their view it’s other departments’ responsibility!

As the Minister responsible for the necessity for so many solar panels in order to assuage his entirely unrealistic and unnecessary net zero obsession, he should provide information on what he and the government is actually doing to address Senator Hughes’ very valid queries.

He aims to achieve 82% renewables by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. This cannot be achieved without huge imports of Chinese-made solar panels.

And we’re talking BIG quantities ….. 22,000 x 500-watt solar panels would need to be installed every day for eight years!

While Bowen’s renewables fantasy continues unabated, it’s clear that security issues can take a hike as far as he and his department is concerned!

Thanks to Alfred Bui at The Epoch Times for much of the factual information included in this article.

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