Ernesto Nájera
Development Director Latin America
K2 Systems
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View from the Top

New Brand, Same International Solar Mounting Quality

By María José Goytia | Tue, 08/16/2022 - 10:58

Q: Given Mexico’s shift in energy policy, how has this market performed within K2 Systems’ global portfolio?

A: The past few years have been difficult due to all the regulatory changes in Mexico. Nonetheless, the renewable energy market has continued to grow, though not at the pace we had expected. The utility-scale environment has been affected the most. However, K2 Systems focuses on Distributed Generation (DG) projects for residential and Commercial and Industrial (C&M) clients.

This solar energy segment has continued to grow despite Mexico’s shift in policy. K2 Systems also has a global strategy and our office in Mexico oversees all our Latin American operations. Therefore, we have taken this opportunity to focus on developing other markets in Latin America, strengthening our position on the continent. Our growth in Mexico remains at a steady pace, with further growth coming from our new ventures elsewhere in Latin America.

In Mexico, K2 is pivoting again to grow further. We do not expect to see the growth rates renewables experienced in previous years, when business doubled annually. Growth will oscillate between a 20 to 30 percent increase, instead. The company believes that some projects that were suspended during the pandemic will gradually resume, albeit with a more conservative perspective. Instead of launching with a capacity from 5MW to 10MW, smaller projects will be preferred.

 

Q: How has K2 Systems’ rebranding impacted its operations in Mexico?

A: K2 Systems is a German company with global scope. We have carried our brand worldwide. However, when we started operations in Mexico and the US, we were unable to use our brand name as there was another company focused on camping and outdoor activities that was similarly named. Therefore, we chose to brand ourselves as Everest Solar Systems for about eight years. Recently, we had the opportunity to use our original name in these two markets and we went for it. It was extremely important for K2 to unify its brand and to be seen as a united international company. We are still the same company but we will use this rebranding to take advantage of our international strength to pursue global goals.

Any solutions that K2 Systems has available worldwide are an option here. For example, our engineers in Mexico have a weekly meeting with their counterparts in Germany to share ideas. We have been doing this exercise from the beginning of our operation in the country but it is definitely easier for clients to connect our quality and prestige under a single global brand.

 

Q: How have the increasing inflation and supply chain disruptions challenged K2 Systems’ manufacturing of solar racking systems?

A: The steel and metal markets worldwide follow global trends, much like stock markets. Inflation has definitely impacted the prices of raw materials. Regarding logistics, we have to adapt to the international landscape. Having a global presence is a benefit in this regard. Our financial stability has allowed us to make some investments to increase our inventory and avoid shortages. Challenges brought on by the pandemic led us to evaluate and improve our operational processes, taking advantage of nearshoring and maritime transportation. K2 Systems has a first-class logistics team that created a long-term strategy during the pandemic to avoid inventory issues. We strengthened communication with our installers to map their projects and ensure sufficient stock.

 

Q: How do you ensure K2 Systems’ solutions can weather the varied Mexican climate conditions?

A: Mexico has a large territory with different weather conditions that can put solar panel installations to the test. We face cold weather and potential tornados in the north, hurricanes on both coasts, as well as humidity and salt corrosion, among other problems. Our products are created with the highest standards. We use marine-grade aluminum to manufacture our mounting systems. This material is resistant to corrosion and does not lose its mechanical strength even when it is installed close to a beach. All our smaller components are manufactured with stainless steel, which assures our products last at least 25 years, which is our warranty period. We conduct age and mechanical tests on all our products to ensure their durability and reliability throughout this time.

 

Q: How does K2 Systems improve safety and security for its mounting solutions?

A: Security and safety are our top priority. Imagine having a solar panel flying away because its racking was not strong enough or because the installer did not install it properly. A situation like this is extremely dangerous and represents extra costs that harm the efficiency and durability of the solar power plant. First, we design and test our products so that they are as error-proof as possible. We invest heavily in training. We have a group of project engineers outside of our sales team that always works closely with installers through training and consultancy to assure installers have all the knowledge and tools to install our mounting systems correctly. In the end, having a close relationship with installers and investing in their education are the key factors to increasing the security and safety of K2’s systems.

 

K2 Systems, previously known as Everest Solar Systems, is a German company focused on solar mounting systems for residential and commercial projects. The company is present in 10 countries and has a portfolio of installed systems above 20GW.

Photo by:   K2 Systems
María José Goytia María José Goytia Journalist and Industry Analyst