Origami Solar’s steel solar module frames reduce lifetime GHG emissions by nearly 90%, says new report

Jun 6, 2022

Independent Boundless Impact report exposes dramatic environmental impact of the solar industry’s reliance on aluminum frames and points to steel as the path to energy independence

Bend, Oregon – JUNE 6, 2022 – Origami Solar, developers of a patent-pending steel frame for solar modules that lowers cost and improves performance and value, announces new research findings that indicate Origami’s solution can reduce solar module production embodied GHG emissions by 87% over the industry’s ubiquitous aluminum frames. The report, released today by Boundless Impact Research and Analytics, underscores the critical role domestic steel sources can play in rebuilding and securing domestic PV module capacity and supply chains. Stronger homefront supply chains will thus ensure solar energy independence from China and other southeast Asian countries, which currently provide virtually all of the aluminum frames used around the world.

Key report findings include:

  • The Origami Solar steel module frames produced in the United States using 100% recycled steel delivers an 87% reduction in GHG emissions compared to aluminum module frames and a 94% reduction when produced in Germany, which more widely utilizes renewable energy in manufacturing.
  • The estimated Fossil Energy Footprint of Origami Solar’s steel module frame is 137 megajoules (MJ) per 1-by-2-meter frame, compared to 815 MJ for a conventional virgin aluminum frame produced in China using an extrusion production process.
  • The potential GHG emission savings resulting from replacing only 10% of the industry’s conventional aluminum solar frames with Origami Solar steel module frames is approximately 30 megatons (30 million metric tons) between 2022 and 2030. This is equivalent to the emissions of eight coal-fired power plants for an entire year. And a 50% shift to steel would result in a GHG reduction of 148 megatons.

The full Boundless report can be accessed here.

Origami Solar uses a steel rolling forming process which creates a frame with intricate folds, hence the name “Origami Solar.” Origami’s patent-pending design, combining innovative engineering and deep knowledge of the capabilities of precision roll-forming and utilization of domestically (whether in North America, Europe, India, or any market looking to establish their own PV manufacturing capabilities and supply chains) available recycled steel, delivers performance equal to or better than aluminum frames while lowering material costs and significantly reducing production greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This innovative module frame is backwards compatible with existing aluminum frames, easily adopted by the solar module industry, and will meet or exceed all UL and IEC standards.

“Boundless assessed the environmental impacts associated with producing solar module frames with recycled steel using precision roll forming processes. We found Origami’s design and fabrication technology is able to achieve a significant GHG reduction over the entire supply chain in comparison with aluminum module frames produced and shipped from China,” said Andreas Van Giezen, senior research analyst at Boundless Impact Research & Analytics.

Annual solar frame production GHG emissions chart

This chart illustrates that just by shifting from aluminum to steel for PV module frames, the industry can massively reduce GHG impact. For every 10% of adoption, GHG emissions go down by 30 megatons per year.
Image credit: Boundless Impact Research & Analytics

“We’re immensely proud that Origami Solar’s unique steel solar module frame can help reduce GHG emissions so directly and significantly,” said Gregg Patterson, CEO of Origami Solar. “Solar is the cleanest, cheapest source of electricity available, which is good news for the energy transition. But If the U.S. does not rapidly seek energy independence backed by secure domestic supply chains, it will find itself overly reliant on imported materials. This report points to American steel as the answer to a renewable energy future. And since steel is abundantly produced on every continent, this solution is a global one. Steel makes clean energy cleaner, and it is essential to the path to domestic energy security.”

This announcement comes shortly after Origami advanced to the final round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s American-Made Solar Prize competition. One of 10 Hardware Track teams named finalists, Origami was awarded a $100,000 prize to advance its innovation from proof-of-concept to production-ready for the final phase of the contest. Origami will present its solution one more time at the DOE’s Go! Demo Day in September 2022.

About Origami Solar

Origami Solar is the developer of a patent-pending steel solar panel frame that will transform the solar industry through reduced material and manufacturing cost, high-speed domestic production, and dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions. By sourcing steel from an established industry ecosystem, solar module manufacturers can eliminate supply chain constraints, accelerate the transition to carbon-free energy, and level the global playing field for module production. The company’s leadership team has successfully developed utility-scale solar projects, commercialized PV components, and launched and led several renewable energy companies. For more information, visit www.origamisolar.com.

About Boundless Impact Research & Analytics

Boundless Impact Research & Analytics is a market intelligence and impact analytics firm that provides quantitative and evidence-based research and data for investors, companies, and funds. Driven by the latest research from independent industry and academic experts, Boundless Impact Research & Analytics offers analysis, market trends, and evidence of best practices in a growing number of emerging sectors that address significant environmental and health challenges. For more information, visit www.boundlessimpact.net.


Gene Hunt
Trevi Communications for Origami Solar
978-750-0333 x.101