The newest trends in the solar industry; interview with Maria Stefanidou

April 6, 2020

Interview with Maria Stefanidou Sales Director at Mounting Systems

Mounting Systems is the only racking system of photovoltaic modules manufacturer in Germany. Located in Rangsdorf, 30 minutes outside Berlin. We produce a whole range of products for pitched and flat roofs as well as ground mounts and now, also solar carports. To manufacture products in-house means we are in full control of the product from the raw materials all the way to product delivery. Being a large manufacturer, we also make parts for many other brands all over the world, giving us unique leverage in many markets. We sell our products under our Mounting Systems brand, as well as private label. In this blog we are interviewing Maria Stefanidou, Sales Director at Mounting Systems. Asking her about the newest solar carport as well as what Mounting System does in order to support the green energy transition.

We know that sustainable policies are becoming more of a requirement for businesses and cities want to become greener, we wondered what effect this has had on your solutions?

As a business in the renewable energy sector sustainable trends and policies can have a huge impact on our business. The phasing out of fossil fuels and nuclear power will bring business opportunities for many companies and industries on the one hand, and independence in energy supply on the other. In many countries incentive programs are in place to support homeowners, for example, to buy solar systems for their roof. As a PV-mounting manufacturer we accelerate this transition by providing attractive systems for the installation of PV modules. We have developed the solar carports to further provide solutions to help stakeholders choose to install green power solutions, may it be homeowners, businesses or governmental institutions.

Are there a variety of solar carport designs?

We have developed 3 versions for 3 use cases that we identified. With these three versions we are able to cover both residential needs as well as larger commercial centers. I find the residential carport especially attractive. Homeowners, can now install a high quality and good-looking solar carport in their driveway for an affordable price. We offer the E-Port Home as single and double for respectively one car and 10 pv-panels or two cars with 15 pv-panels. It’s also possible to have additional features added such as LED lights, preferred color and more luxurious design for those who wants the best of the best for their electric vehicle. We sell the E-Port Home through our trusted wholesalers around Europe.

What are the tangible benefits of a solar carport?

Cars need a parking space, and if that car also is electric, a charging infrastructure is desired. A solar carport serves multiple needs with one solution, it produces energy and protects the car from strong sun or rough weather. This multipurpose use on its own is valuable for a homeowner or a business owner who wants to have a modern, cost-efficient and sustainable solution. Additionally, energy independence gives freedom and can reduce fixed costs.

As the Director of Sales, can you tell us a bit more about your main customers?

Our strongest market is Germany, but with a presence in almost all the EU countries. Our sales strategy is transparent and loyal. Therefore, we limit our partnerships in each country to just a handful of wholesalers. We support them with marketing, product trainings and handing over leads. The development of strong partnership gives us the benefit of long-lasting deals, where it’s easier to calculate production forecast. For example, in 2019 we delivered 95% of all our products on time, which we managed due to the good collaboration we have with our partners.

We also work with larger project companies (EPC). They work project for project and do not keep stock of our products. This makes it challenging to have an accurate production forecasts. For a manufacturer it’s still very important to work with project-based businesses. This is because the people working in project-based businesses often have unique insights of the market. They are updated on the newest systems on the market, new market opportunities and upcoming industry challenges. We look at these partnerships as a source for market intelligence and a nice way to develop a good network in the industry.

Geographically speaking are there any new markets you would like to break into?

Spain! Spain is a unique market due to the industry knowledge that is there. Now that the market finally is recovering after years with a very conservative policy, it’s attractive for investors again. Together with the increasing pressure from the EU to increase renewable shares in the grid, the market is recovering. This year we exhibited at the Genera fair in Madrid and were overwhelmed with the positive response. We really look forward to seeing the development the next few months. In addition to Spain, we are also focusing on Scandinavia, which is a slow market, but with a big buying power and with strong focus on sustainable technologies. We are starting in Sweden, with the aim to eventually deliver our products to Denmark, Norway and Finland.

What are the greatest opportunities and challenges for Mounting Systems in particular, from your point of view?

Recent developments in the company are promising and we are determined to gain a higher share in the European market. New marketing campaigns and a refreshed focus on our brand will support that vison. Additionally, it will createa a brand identity which is important to be more visible. With a new internal structure and a strong investor, we focus on creating additional values for our partners. We have hired a complete product, innovation and engineering team with solar experience and top engineering expertise. We can already see promising results through creative and realistic product developments.

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