Folded steel solar module frame nets DOE prize

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Origami Solar, developers of a patent-pending steel solar module frame, has advanced to the semi-final round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) American-Made Solar Prize competition. The company won a $50,000 prize and will next compete for a prize of $100,000. The unique folded frame is roll-formed steel, which the company says lowers material cost and reduces emissions from production as it requires less time to make and can be sourced through local or regional supply chains.

According to Origami Solar, using aluminum for module frames contributes more than ten times the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than its steel frames. The company said emissions are 14 kg of per 1 kg of aluminum, whereas steel production results in about 1.2 kg of GHGs for every 1 kg of steel. Recycled steel produces even less GHGs.

“It is exciting to see Origami Solar recognized by the DOE because steel frames have the potential to improve the mechanical durability of solar panels, especially large-format designs,” commented Jenya Meydbray, CEO of PV Evolution Labs (PVEL.)

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 program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In August 2020, Toledo Solar received a federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the doe for the development of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar modules with glass-enameled steel backs.

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