Origami Solar sets up US fabrication of steel solar panel frames

Partnerships with steel equipment producers in the US state of Ohio and two locations in Texas will enable Origami Solar to have its steel solar module frames shipped from fabricator to module manufacturer in one to two days.

From pv magazine USA

Origami Solar has announced partnerships with three US steel fabricators who will domestically produce steel solar module frames in Ohio and Texas. The company expects to ship steel frames to customers in the first quarter of 2025. By producing regionally, frames will reach module manufacturers in one to two days.

“America has one of the world’s strongest steel industries” said Origami Solar CEO Gregg Patterson. “We have the energy efficient steel mills and the world-class fabricators that can produce every solar frame America will ever need.”

Origami Solar, founded in 2019 and based in Oregon, is a pv magazine 2023 award winner for manufacturing. The company produces patented, steel solar module frames that are said to lower cost and improve module performance. It reports that the frames are made of “green” recycled steel, thereby reducing greenhouse gases by up to 93%, representing a reduction of 80 kg per module or 200 metric tons per MW.

A recent report by Wood Mackenzie and Origami Solar notes that while the United States is working toward building up its domestic module manufacturing, thanks for the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a less well-known problem is US dependence on aluminum module frames. The majority of these are currently imported from East and Southeast Asia, and the report says that they are all made from carbon-intensive aluminum.

Origami Solar sees an opportunity to supply module manufacturers in the US market who are switching from imported aluminum frames to domestically made steel frames. Its use of recycled steel from suppliers in the United States and Europe in its frames give it a competitive edge when it comes to greenhouse gas scoring as assessed by Boundless Impact

Patterson said that by having regional fabrication centers in the United States, customers will avoid “shipping issues, labor strife, or impoundments delaying the arrival of the frames they need.” He added that by procuring domestically produced steel frames customers won’t have the worry of “geopolitical tensions” or “ever-increasing tariffs.” In light of recent news about fragile solar panels, he noted that steel frames may alleviate the risk of frames failing to support ever-larger solar panels.

Switching to domestically produced products across the solar supply chain has the further benefit of supporting good-paying jobs.

“Thanks to our partnership with Origami, we were able to expand our investments in the solar industry, keep our Benton, Arkansas facility open, keep our current employees hard at work and expand to up to 70 additional skilled workers over the next three years,” said Rocky Christenberry, Priefert’s executive vice president.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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