U.S. Department of Energy Advances Origami Solar to Finals of American-Made Solar Competition for Innovative Steel PV Module Frame

Apr 27, 2022

Origami’s innovation will help the U.S. achieve solar supply chain independence by utilizing readily available domestic steel

Bend, Oregon – April 27, 2022 – Origami Solar, developers of a patent-pending steel frame for solar modules that lowers cost, dramatically reduces carbon emissions, and improves performance and value, has advanced to the final round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) American-Made Solar Prize competition. One of ten 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.

Eric Hafter, Origami Solar Founder imageOrigami Solar’s patent-pending approach combining innovative engineering and design with the capabilities of precision roll-forming and utilization of domestically 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 readily manufacturable and will meet or exceed all UL and IEC standards.

Since being named a semi-finalist in December, Origami’s rigorous advancement and testing has confirmed several unique benefits, including:

  • The company’s novel design gives its frame high strength and stiffness while minimizing the amount of steel required; roll forming results in more than 10 tight folds in a two square inch cross-sectional area
  • The patent-pending steel module frame performs equal to or better than traditional aluminum frames while significantly reducing production-related GHG emissions
  • Third-party consulting firm TESCI Solar found that, for load bearing requirements, the Origami 35mm frame has equivalent performance characteristics to a standard 40mm aluminum frame, allowing producers to provide a “higher shipping density product without sacrificing strength or performance”
  • A robust steel ecosystem is available globally, eliminating emissions produced by shipping imported aluminum module frames, which are produced almost exclusively in China
  • Utilization of steel anti-corrosion coatings like galvanized or zinc-aluminum-magnesium (ZAM) enables steel components to last for 30 years or more

“The Origami frame is a real breakthrough for the American solar market because it outperforms aluminum, relies on domestic steel, and is easily adoptable by manufacturers,” said Samuel Truthseeker, CEO and Principal Engineer of TESCI Solar. “Furthermore, the assembly process for the Origami steel frame is the same as for aluminum frames, making their adoption a simple and low-impact manufacturing cutover. Module manufacturers will not need to modify their manufacturing tooling to introduce these superior frames, thus Origami’s journey to market will be simple, quick, and low cost.”

“We’re proud to proceed to the final round of the DOE’s American-Made Solar Prize competition and grateful for the department’s additional support as we advance our steel solar frame to market,” said Gregg Patterson, CEO of Origami Solar. “Energy independence is more crucial than ever, and it is vital that the U.S. invest in and secure its supply chain for producing the solar infrastructure we need to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and foreign entities. Our steel frame is a superior solution to aluminum, while freeing the U.S. from dangerous reliance on imported materials. This recognition from the DOE could not be more timely.”

Origami will present its solution one last time at the DOE’s Go! Demo Day in September 2022. Ultimately, two teams will win the grand prize, each receiving an additional $500,000 and a $75,000 support voucher to help them bring their technologies to market.

About the American-Made Solar Prize

The American-Made Solar Prize is a multi-million-dollar prize competition designed to energize U.S. solar innovation through a series of contests and the development of a diverse and powerful support network that leverages national laboratories, energy incubators, and other resources across the country. The American-Made Solar Prize is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Learn more.

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.