Chinese solar panel manufacturer Risen Energy has released a new solar panel with an alloy steel frame instead of the traditional aluminum. The company said this is in response to mitigate the inherent carbon footprint of aluminum. By using coated alloyed steel, Risen can produce modules using less energy (by avoiding the high energy consumption during aluminum production).
China recently released the plan “Working Guidance for Carbon Dioxide Peaking and Carbon Neutrality in Full and Faithful Implementation of the New Development Philosophy.” The guidance states that China plans to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in the primary energy consumption mix to approximately 25% by 2030, by which time its total installed capacity of wind and solar power is expected to exceed 1,200 GW in addition to reaffirming the goal of carbon peak and carbon neutrality.
The carbon neutrality mandate puts the onus on the Chinese solar PV sector to shift to raw materials with lower carbon emission and less energy consumption. Steel processing far outperforms the electrolytic aluminum equivalent in terms of carbon emission and energy consumption reduction; 13,500 kWh of thermal power is required to produce one tonne of aluminum, equivalent to 11.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) while similarly, 4,500 kWh of power and corresponding 1.8 tonnes CO2 is needed to produce one tonne of steel.
“Whatever your belief,” said Mr. Sun, president of Risen Energy Co., Ltd. “environmental pollution and carbon dioxide emissions affect us all. It is simply not good enough for us to proclaim that we are making an impact of reduction of these elements by providing and using solar PV modules, we must do more. Moving to this uniquely constructed module is a step in the right direction.”
Simply swapping out aluminum for steel of any type is not a simple exercise. Corrosion resistance, strength and cosmetic issues all need to be considered and evaluated. The high strength alloy steel frame looks, for all practical purposes, the same as the one made of aluminum, yet Risen says it out performs in strength, corrosion and weather resistance because of the use of corrosion-resistant zinc-aluminum-magnesium coating as well as Risen Energy’s unique surface treatment technology. After more than a year of efforts in reliability testing and design optimization, Risen Energy’s fully upgraded Titan series of modules has received IEC certification from the independent testing and certification organization TÜV SÜD, demonstrating that the upgraded series fully meets the needs of various application scenarios of PV power generating systems.