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The Climate Change Department Faces Scrutiny Over Solar Panel Vulnerabilities and CCP Ties Impacting Grid Security

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Senator Hollie Hughes expressed concern about a significant percentage of solar inverters in Australia being supplied and manufactured by companies with strong ties to the CCP.

There have been discussions about the security risks of solar panels to the national electricity grid, considering the push by the federal Labor government to achieve net zero emissions using renewable energy, as revealed by Australia’s Climate Change and Energy Department.

Hollie Hughes, a Liberal senator for New South Wales, voiced concerns about potential manipulation of Australia’s power system by overseas malicious actors via smart inverters used in many solar panels in Australia. She particularly raised the issue of solar inverters being controlled by outside players and their provision by companies tied to the CCP, emphasizing that this is a matter of national security.

Questions were also raised about the government’s discussions regarding measures to ensure the national grid’s integrity against technical issues arising from solar panels. Martin Squire from the Climate Change Department, confirmed the development of the government’s cybersecurity strategy, which includes consideration of security risks associated with solar panels.

There is also a team specifically established to look into security issues concerning distributed energy resources, and a project was commissioned to conduct a cyber standard mapping and gap analysis, as well as to develop cybersecurity standards for the Australian market.

Senator Hollie Hughes also brought up concerns about modern slavery in the production of solar panels in China, particularly forced labor imposed by the CCP on the Uyghurs. Consequently, the senator questioned whether measures have been taken to ensure imported solar panels to Australia are not products of forced labor. The Climate Change Department Deputy Secretary assured that the department abides by domestic laws and takes advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the application of modern slavery laws to the energy sector.

Concerns About Slavery in Chinese-Made Solar Panels

Issues regarding the involvement of modern slavery in Chinese-made solar panels were discussed, and concerns were raised about the role of the government in reviewing its renewable energy strategy to address modern slavery elements in imported solar panels.

The statement on the involvement of companies with ties to the CCP in providing and manufacturing solar inverters in Australia is particularly significant considering the impact of China’s dominance in the global supply chain of solar panels on Australia’s transition to renewable energy, as well as the potential security and modern slavery risks associated with the import and use of solar panels.

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