A Strategic Link in the Quality Value Chain of PV SystemsWed, 02/21/2018 - 12:27
While Mexico’s long-term electricity auctions are boosting the country’s move toward a cleaner energy mix, the residential and commercial sectors of the electricity market have yet to fully embrace this transition and the inherent benefits of distributed generation. Installing a PV system is an already highly technical process and increased complications may arise when the area available is constrained to a roof’s surface. To succeed, simplicity is key.
“Mexico is a singular market considering the wide range of roof surfaces we work with, such as uneven roofs, flat roofs, concrete roofs and laminated roofs, to name a few,” says Ernesto Nájera, Business Development Manager LATAM of Everest Solar Systems. “Simplifying the installation process while ensuring reliable and durable PV system performance for our final client is at the core of our business model.”
As structure suppliers, Everest provides PV installers with flexibility through reliable, easy-to-set-up and normcompliant systems. To tackle the Mexican market, the company has developed a wide variety of products to provide the best solution depending on the roof type to maximize the MW/m2 ratio. “Our traditional north-south oriented Crossrail Tilt Up product can have from 5° to 3032° of inclination. Our US favorite, the east-west oriented D-Dome Railless System, forgoes the need for perforations, decreases the installation cost per watt and increases the quantity of panels that can be installed on a limited area as well as the electric power output.”
The company also makes a point of using technology to its advantage, offering Base On, a software solution designed for its D-Dome product. “Based on Google Maps, it allows the user to map out the roof’s edges, obstacles present and shades produced to obtain a blueprint for the design of the PV system,” says Nájera. Once it has the basic data, such as surface area, local wind speeds, number of panels, panel arrangement and roof weight limits, a list of materials and engineering data is automatically generated.
Weather is another element that can heavily influence the performance of a PV system. “Mexico has lower winds in
major cities compared to the US, coupled with hurricaneprone zones. The country’s versatile climate calls for an equally versatile product portfolio installable in contrasting weather conditions varying between those found in Cancun and those in the Bajío region,” Nájera says. “Standards and norms are also a big part of our business and create a considerable comparative advantage, especially when considering that CFE’s codes are viewed more like guidelines and recommendations.”
To make a name for itself, Mexico’s solar industry needs to standardize its quality PV installation processes. Interacting with CRE in this regard, as well as first approaches with FIDE, UNAM and the National Council of Standardization and Certification of Professional Competence (CONOCER) are a priority for Everest since these organizations design and implement training programs, not only for solar panels and inverters but also for PV system structures.
Mexico’s market characteristics made it an attractive option for Everest’s expansion. Its 120 million inhabitants, high electric tariffs, net metering clauses that are helping develop solar businesses and the Energy Reform are turning international eyes toward Mexico. Nájera says the company intends to use its Mexico office to address new opportunities in Central and South America. “Our local presence ensures our products are used as they should be and comply with the rules and regulations in place,” he says. In most markets, Everest develops its business through local distributors.
Everest has big plans for Mexico, targeting a position among the Top 3 PV structure installers nationwide. “PV ground mounts and car ports have great potential in Mexico, but we are still weighing our options when it comes to diversifying our business lines,” Nájera says. The company is keeping a close eye on new rules and regulations because it strongly believes UL-certified PV structures must become a market reality as it matures and continues to actively interact with regulatory authorities in the design of Official Mexican Norms (NOMs) to that end.