Optimal Racking and Mounting Ensures Solar Longevity and SafetyBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 12/08/2021 - 13:00
Q: K2 Systems recently rebranded from Everest Solar Systems in North America. Why did this rebranding come about and what are the benefits?
A: The company started out as K2 Systems in 2004 in Germany. When we began opening offices around the world, we discovered that we were not able to use the name K2 in Mexico and in the US. That is why in Mexico we are known as Everest Solar Systems, reflecting in both company names a reference to the world’s two highest mountains because we still incorporated the same philosophy, culture and solutions. Now, we can use the same branding worldwide, which we think is an important step for the company. People can see us as one, unified, strong player that can provide customers with strong services and expertise around the world.
Q: Why is Mexico an important market for K2’s global operations?
A: K2 has always considered Mexico a booming market, especially after utility-scale projects experienced a great deal of growth. We also cater to the local distributed generation (DG) market, where we have seen a big increase in business. DG-based capacity practically doubled in recent years, notwithstanding a slowdown during the pandemic and recent uncertainty in the market. I do believe that if electricity prices go up, solar demand will grow even more. For these reasons, the company decided to open a service office in Mexico, which I opened four years ago. This office is important because it represents our hub for technology and product development for Latin America and the US. It also functions as a service hub for all Latin American markets.
Q: What impact does a proper solution have on the efficiency and long-term productivity of a solar system?
A: This is precisely where K2 Systems differentiates itself from the usual fare in the industry. A photovoltaic solar module has a life cycle of around 25 years and can easily outlive its warranty. Inverters are built to last as well. If you do not have a proper racking system or mounting solution to match this longevity, your solution will not last. Without the optimal solution, panels can come under stress, can get damaged or even fly away under strong winds in the worst-case scenario. Global warming has brought stronger winds and hurricanes. All this needs to be considered in designs. A properly built mounting system allows you to sleep well, knowing that the installation will stand strong for the next 25 years. If you install it properly, your installation will have a higher energy yield. Nevertheless, the most important factor is safety. You need to protect the module, the roof and everyone around it.
Q: Mounting and racking systems appear straightforward but need to adapt to new trends constantly. How does K2 Systems add value here?
A: Solar modules represent the biggest investment within a system, more than half of it. Therefore, they attract the highest amount of investment for improvements. Panels change every few months in capacity, size and weight, so you have to be able to adapt quickly to be able to protect these modules. We are constantly looking at what module manufacturers are doing and working to be ahead of these innovations with our product development team.
Furthermore, to make solar cost-effective, timing and speed is of the essence. Projects need to be installed smoothly because hiring specialized installation personnel is a costly matter. For this reason, we try to add value for installers by understanding their business and supporting them in becoming more productive.
Q: K2 has solutions to mount on any viable surface. Which configurations are most common in Mexico?
A: In Mexico, we see a great deal of demand for our CrossRail Tilt Up in residential systems so that panels can be tilted and obstacles dealt with. Within the C&I environment, there are many metal roofs. We have solutions that can reduce the amount of material needed, saving money without compromising safety. Ground-mounted systems are growing in popularity too because there is not enough roof space available. With a few parts, we can adapt systems, so K2 is a versatile option.
Q: How would you assess the level of expertise among solar installers in Mexico?
A: I think we are acquiring the right level of expertise. There are many institutions that provide certified training. They have good methods and manuals for installations. Many companies are investing in certifications. Solar is becoming trendy in Mexico, meaning that more professionals are coming into the field. Nonetheless, the sector needs to do even more work. Low pricing is often at the expense of quality or even safety. This is a situation we should completely avoid. K2 Systems sets itself apart by supporting its installers directly. If they have any questions, we will support them right away so that the system can be installed correctly and as fast as possible. Building trust with the installer network is essential.
Q: How does K2 Systems push social and environmental sustainability?
A: We work as much as we can to support sustainability. The company plants trees and emphasizes sustainable forms of transport. This includes electric vehicles, although our CEO prefers to go to work by bicycle. We also value our social approach. In April, we supported communities by delivering candy and toys to orphaned children. We are proud to be able to give back to Mexican society.
Q: What does the company hope to achieve in 2021-2022?
A: We have a good pipeline of projects either heading toward their final stages or that will initiate during first months of 2022. The pipeline represents a good share of the market. K2 Systems has performed steadily during 2021 in terms of sales. Despite challenges, we have grown. For the year to come, we anticipate an increase in demand. Our goal is to increase our market share.
K2 Systems, previously known as Everest Solar Systems, is a German company focused on solar mounting systems. Its portfolio of installed systems stands above 16GW. In Mexico, the company is based in Guadalajara.