Solar Mounting Systems Are Key for DG System DurabilityBy María José Goytia | Wed, 08/10/2022 - 09:47
Q: What distinguishes Aluminext Solar from its competitors in the solar racking market?
A: Aluminext Solar is an Aluminext division dedicated to designing and manufacturing solar mounting systems for the residential, commercial, and Industrial (C&I) segments. We base our solutions on three main drivers. Firstly, our solutions must be fast and easy to install. Secondly, our solutions must be efficient and competitive. We base our standard on the cost per watt. Finally, we want our solutions to be safe and reliable. Aluminext’s mounting systems have a 25 year-warranty. Therefore, we must create products that remain durable for a long time.
Aluminext is a proudly Mexican company, offering products of the highest quality. We want to promote that what is done in Mexico is done well. To support our quality standard, we carry out mechanical studies and acquire certifications for all our products. This approach has allowed us to increase our market share in Mexico year after year.
Q: How have rising inflation and supply chain disruptions impacted the company?
A: Both situations have been a great challenge for our manufacturing of solar mounting systems. Aluminum is our key raw material, which belongs to a commodity market governed by the London Metal Exchange. This market has seen a 75 percent price increase in the past year. This means that, in this period, the increase in the price of aluminum in international markets has been approximately 10 times the inflation rate. Meanwhile, external factors, such as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, are putting even more pressure on the aluminum industry.
Maritime transportation has also been a factor that has altered our production. Although Aluminext Solar manufactures more than 95 percent of its products in Mexico, there are some components that we import from Asia and Europe. . Inventory planning and delivery times have been fundamental to overcoming this challenge. We must have an assertive forecast of our product demand to ensure sufficient inventory levels and allow us to continue growing in the global market.
Q: How has Aluminext Solar adapted to the stagnation of utility-scale projects in Mexico?
A: In the past three years, there has been a great deal of uncertainty in the Mexican energy market due to the government’s policy shift. However, even though utility-scale projects are at a standstill, Distributed Generation (DG) continues to grow in the Mexican market. Aluminext has decided to focus on this industry. DG is the most competitive option among the few viable alternatives in the Mexican market for low-cost power production. Incremental costs for natural gas and other fossil fuels are impacting the cost of electricity. Therefore, DG maintains its attractiveness to lower the energy costs for both residential and C&I use. Due to the lack of investment in transmission lines, DG will be an ally for the government and the private sector to ensure energy supply stability.
Q: What role do residential and C&I projects play within Aluminext Solar's business strategy?
A: Initially, DG solar focused mainly on the residential sector. However, nowadays, the growth rate is led by the C&I segment, which could see a greater increase if the legislation allowed a higher limit above the established 0.5MW maximum. In other countries, DG permitting caps are much higher, such as in Brazil, at 5MW, or the US, which is 20MW. This higher capacity would allow the solar industry to expand at a faster rate. There have been attempts in Mexico to expand the generation limit to 1MW but they have not been successful yet. Aluminext Solar Racking is focused on developing projects for both segments. Sixty percent of our portfolio is focused on C&I, the rest is tailored to the residential segment. Residential DG is also seeing attractive growth rates. The pandemic caused changes in daily dynamics, with many people now spending much more time at home and consuming more energy in their houses. This has boosted interest in investing in energy solutions to lower domestic energy costs.
Q: How does Aluminext Solar ensure its solar mounting systems keep pace with constantly evolving solar panels?
A: The company knows that the solar industry is constantly changing. We have an internal engineering department that monitors and analyzes the innovation and technological evolution of solar panels around the globe. Based on that, we design solutions that adapt to the current industry requirements for the country that we serve. This continuous improvement strategy allows us to remain at the forefront of the industry.
Q: What impact do solar mounting systems have on the durability of the entire solar generation system?
A: Aluminext Solar offers a 25-year warranty on its mounting systems because the solar panels have the same guarantee. It would be illogical for the solar panel to have a longer durability warranty than the mounting or racking system that supports it. Mexico still suffers from a lack of professionalization in the manufacturing of certain products that affect solar power systems in the long term. When the durability of the mounting system is inadequate, higher costs will be incurred in the long run, losing energy generation efficiency. Therefore, both the mounting system and PV panels must be of the highest quality. Aluminum racking is the most competitive and durable solution in the market. Therefore, it represents a wise investment toward long-term durability and efficiency.
Q: How is Aluminext strengthening its relationship with installers?
A: We seek to provide our installers with constant training through webinars and site visits. As a result, the company can strengthen its relationship with them and ensure that our solutions are installed correctly and safely. These training sessions allow us to constantly listen to our customers. With this input, Aluminext Solar Racking can adapt its solutions and training to the needs of customers and installers, which improves the outcome and the entire service chain for a solar power production project.
Aluminext Solar Racking is a company dedicated to designing and manufacturing solar mounting solutions for residential, commercial and industrial sectors for the Mexican, US, Canadian and Latin American markets.