US DOE advances Origami Solar to semi-finals of national solar competition due to foldable module frame design

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The competition is designed to spur innovations in the US solar sector. Image: Origami Solar/DOE via origamisolar.com.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Origami Solar US$50,000 and advanced it to the semi-final round of the DOE’s American-Made Solar Prize competition after being impressed by the company’s folded solar frame.

The Origami Folded Frame is a patent-pending roll-formed steel solar module frame that dramatically lowers cost, reduces carbon emissions from production by more than 85% and “improves performance and value”, Origami Solar said.

The compay said its Folded Frame “is lower in material cost and significantly reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts from production”, adding that it took “less time to make and can be sourced through US-based and other local or regional supply chains”.

“The new frame is readily manufacturable and will meet all IEC and UL standards,” it added.

The company said that while enormous progress had been made on the cost of solar modules, the same could not be said for the cost of frames that have been made of aluminium for half a century “with negligible gains from new innovation or cost reduction”.  

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

“The reductions in cost and GHG impact from switching to steel are also great news for the industry and the planet. We look forward to testing these frames at PVEL early next year.”

Origami Solar will now compete for US$100,000 in the next round of the American-Made Solar Prize competition, a multi-million-dollar prize competition designed to energise solar innovation in the US.

“Switching from aluminium to steel module frames, which we’ve proven can be done, will transform the solar panel manufacturing industry and provide multiple benefits in lower cost, reduced emissions, secure supply chains, domestic job creation and added features,” said Eric Hafter, CEO and co-founder of Origami Solar.

“This is an entirely attainable opportunity to further drive solar power growth and accelerate the global clean energy transition.”

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