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Expanding Indigenous access to renewable energy is needed now more than ever. As the world’s leading solar panel supplier, Jinko Solar is committed to improving the accessibility of renewable energy for all. It has provided continuous support to Native American tribes that seek the vast benefits of solar energy, including promoting health, welfare, and economic development, while improving the energy independence of these sovereign nations.


Over the years, Jinko Solar has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations on a variety of large-scale projects that improve Native American welfare and access to clean and renewable energy.


Jinko Solar: A Timeline of Support


In 2017, Jinko Solar partnered with Grid Alternatives — a nonprofit providing free solar installations and related job training to communities that are economically disadvantaged or lacking environmental justice — to donate over 12 kilowatts of solar arrays to members of the Wiyot tribe in Loleta, California, and the Rosebud Sioux tribe of South Dakota. 


“Jinko’s equipment donations allow us to serve families we wouldn’t otherwise be able to serve, especially in tribal communities and internationally where there is no other funding to make solar accessible to low-income families,” said a spokesperson for Grid Alternatives. “We’re incredibly grateful for their generosity.”


These arrays are not only expected to bring in around $50,000 in energy savings throughout their lifetime, but also support crucial tribal services like the Rosebud Sioux’s Sicangu Oyate Tipi Homeless Shelter which provides housing and public services like first-aid education to up to 14 residents.


In the Pine Ridge reservation bordering Rosebud, Jinko Solar donated 29.57 kilowatts of high-efficiency solar modules in collaboration with Everybody Solar, a solar project fundraising nonprofit. These modules have been used to power the One Spirit Allen Youth Center and One Spirit Buffalo House, two cultural sites critical to the well-being of the Oglala Lakota Nation.


The One Spirit Allen Youth Center, which was fitted with an 18.4 kilowatt solar array in October 2018, provides tribal youth with a variety of vital services, from counseling to mentorship, tutoring, recreation, and meals. By producing over 28,000 kilowatt hours of clean energy each year, The Allen Youth Center can put more money into the services it provides and less into energy costs.


“One Spirit offers invaluable programming to the Allen Community, including serving over 4,000 meals to youth annually. In an area so entrenched in poverty, every dollar counts,” said Jeri Baker, the director of One Spirit. “The $1,500 saved annually will allow us to increase our meal service programming and offer more activities to the youth, including maintaining cultural heritage alive.”


The One Spirit Charging Buffalo Meathouse is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved meat processing plant that aims to increase tribal consumption of local and traditional meats to address concerns of hunger, diabetes, and obesity. The 11.16 kilowatt solar array installed on the Charging Buffalo Meathouse has already reduced its average monthly energy bill by nearly $210 and aligns with the Lakota tribe’s ethos of remaining in harmony with nature.


“Having solar at these sites will serve as inspiration to move toward a more sustainable way of life and help our people reconnect to our heritage,” said tribal elder John Bad Wound. “It offers hope of independence, self-reliance, and sustainability to a truly marginalized community.”


Added Nigel Cockroft, general manager at Jinko Solar, “The Lakota have a long history, and we are truly humbled that our solar panels can become part of their story.”

A ‘New Way to Honor the Old Way’


A few hundred miles away at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, Jinko Solar, in collaboration with the nonprofits GivePower and Empowered By Light, donated 300 kilowatts of solar modules in 2020 to create the Cannon Ball Community Solar Farm, a 1,100 panel, $470,000 solar farm that represents over half of the solar infrastructure for the entire state.


“Indigenous people have been embracing the sun for eons. It’s in our culture, our ceremony, our song, our dance. So we’re taking this new way to honor the old way and then become sustainable in every aspect. And that only happens from the grassroots,” said John Red Cloud of Red Cloud Renewable, a renewable job training nonprofit. 


This solar farm is estimated to save the community anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 annually and represents a major step toward energy sovereignty.


“Energy sovereignty creates jobs, it provides hope, it provides a way of life that the outside world has but that Indigenous communities don’t,” commented Cody Two Bears, who spearheaded the development of the solar farm. 


In addition to aiding native tribes on their journey to achieve energy sovereignty, Jinko Solar has also supported Indigenous people during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with Hearts of America, Jinko Solar provided the Navajo Nation with 70,000 protective masks and over 5,000 remote learning kits.


For a population at 3.5 times higher risk of being infected with COVID, this donation helped slow the spread within the Navajo community while promoting continued education throughout the height of the pandemic. 


Jinko Solar and the Future of Energy Sovereignty 


A world-leading supplier of solar panels and storage, Jinko Solar is at the forefront of the renewable energy transition and continues to improve access to solar power. 


As Vice President Dany Qian puts it, “Jinko Solar’s core concept is to make solar energy as independent, nonintermittent, and self-reliant as possible.”


Solar energy offers native communities a unique opportunity to positively transform their health, well-being, and economic opportunity. Jinko Solar has made it its mission to optimize the energy portfolio and enable a sustainable future and will continue to support projects that promote Indigenous energy sovereignty in doing so.