Reliable sources indicate that Netherlands-based Esdec has acquired flat-roof PV mounting company PanelClaw at a yet-to-be disclosed price. Esdec and PanelClaw management had denied that the acquisition was taking place.
Esdec bought Quick Mount last year in a roll-up of U.S. racking companies and related intellectual property. According to equities analyst Roth Capital Partners in its July industry note, Quick Mount’s revenue is growing 70% year-over-year. Last year, the firm doubled its annual production capacity to 1.2 GW.
Quick Mount was one of a small number of solar companies that manufacture in-house in the U.S. Recently, Esdec announced plans to close its approximately 40-person factory in Walnut Creek, California at the end of this year.
Private equity firm Tenex acquired Unirac in 2016 and continued the market consolidation despite the pandemic this year — acquiring Ecolibrium Solar in July, adding Ecolibrium’s commercial flat roof, residential rail-less and metal roof products to its product line. Ecolibrium has installed more than 800 MW of its racking gear.
Racking costs and taxonomy
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s most recent solar cost benchmarks, residential solar racking costs approximately $0.10/W and commercial solar racking costs $0.10 to $0.22/W depending on wind and snow loading measures.
While most racking systems contain flashing, mounts or feet, aluminum rails, clamps, and ballast for non-penetrating commercial installations — there is still a spectacularly wide variety of innovative racking approaches, all with their own strengths and weaknesses.
The vendor landscape is fragmented as is the application space — divided into rail-based and rail-less systems for residential roofs. Each roof type — composite shingle, standing seam metal, tile roofs, and low-slope ballasted applications requires its own specialized racking approach. This has resulted in a crowded market with a long tail of small racking firms.
The racking vendor universe:
- Rail-based rooftop racking vendors include ProSolar, Unirac, IronRidge, Mounting Systems, and Everest Solar Systems.
- Rail-less residential racking comes from Quick Mount PV, Pegasus Solar, Unirac and Ecolibrium Solar.
- Low-slope ballasted non-penetrating racking comes from Unirac, IronRidge, DynoRaxx, SunModo, PanelClaw and KB Racking. Polar Racking is a flat-roof ballasted vendor that also supplies ground-mount solar and carport solutions.
ProSolar should be listed under Rail-based systems and not Rail-less systems
It’s evident that the technological innovation and market volatility in the racking market is going to accelerate as competition continues, as the California solar mandate advances, and as solar spreads to more global residential and commercial rooftops.
BloombergNEF forecasts that Americans will install 3 GW of solar on residential rooftops in 2020.
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