Origami Solar inks steel deals for ‘fully American’ module frame supply

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Close up of a solar module with a steel frame.
Steel frames are the second most expensive part of the BOM for a module after solar cells. Image: Origami Solar.

Solar frame producer Origami Solar has signed three deals with US steel manufacturers to produce its steel module frames in a move which it said “finalised a fully American supply chain.”

The deals were signed with steel producers Welser Profile, in Ohio, and Priefert and Unimacts in Texas. Origami said that the deals will enable it to ship steel solar module frames to US customers in the first quarter of 2025.

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The company claims that its steel frames offer a more sustainable and durable alternative to the standard aluminium frame. Gregg Patterson, CEO of Origami Solar, said: “We have the energy-efficient steel mills and the world-class fabricators that can produce every solar frame America will ever need. Thanks to our newly-announced partnerships and all-domestic supply chain, there is simply no reason for the solar industry to accept the enormous risk that comes with imported aluminium frames.”

He continued: “They should not have to accept shipping issues, labour strife, or impoundments delaying the arrival of the frames they need. They should not have to accept the possibility that geopolitical tensions could shut off the frame supply entirely. They should not have to accept the risk of ever-increasing tariffs or that weaker aluminium frames would fail to support ever-larger solar panels. Now, the solar industry can avoid that risk entirely.”

The US has a large, established and well-supported steel industry. A shift to steel frames could feasibly provide insulation from the ongoing trade disputes and tariff investigations which threaten the security of solar supply.

Patterson spoke to PV Tech Premium earlier this year about the potential that ‘abundant’ steel supply in the US and Europe has to shore up solar supply against these trade challenges.

Simultaneously, there have been growing concerns about the quality of solar modules on the market and in use.  Reports have shown that there has been an increase in defects and breakages in the last year, most recently exhibited by the PVEL Module Reliability Scorecard, and a rise in adverse weather has also impacted the solar modules deployed on the ground.

Origami claims that a steel frame can deliver improvements to module strength and create more resilient products.

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