POWER LEADER: The Future of Solar with Ken Kozicki of FTC Solar

1 May 2024

Delivering renewable energy solutions that are both efficient and environmentally conscious requires a deep understanding of engineering, project management, and global market dynamics. Leading professionals in this sector are tasked with not only advancing technology but also addressing the logistical and regulatory challenges of diverse terrains and markets worldwide.

In this edition of the "Power Leader" series, we explore these themes with Ken Kozicki, Chief Marketing Officer, FTC Solar. Our discussion covers the intricacies of solar tracker systems, key engineering breakthroughs, and strategic decisions that have shaped the industry. This feature offers a nuanced perspective on how top companies are navigating the complex landscape of renewable energy, emphasizing both their successes and the challenges they face.

FTC Solar has made significant strides in this direction, delivering over 4.5 GW of solar trackers globally and executing projects across varied landscapes from the United States to Southeast Asia and Australia. The company's deep-rooted experience in engineering and project development has positioned it as a key player in the renewable energy sector.

Courtesy: FTC Solar

What is FTC Solar's mission and how are your solar tracker systems influencing the renewable energy landscape?

At FTC Solar, our mission is deeply rooted in enhancing the competitiveness and sustainability of solar technology. With over two decades of collective experience from our founding team in EPCs (engineering, procurement and construction), developers and asset owners, we've identified and addressed critical industry challenges. Our solutions—spanning differentiated solar trackers, sophisticated software, and comprehensive engineering services—are designed to minimize capital and operational expenses while optimizing energy output. Our global projects, from the United States to Southeast Asia, not only demonstrate our commitment to spreading clean energy but also highlight our role in reducing carbon footprints and aiding communities in their sustainable energy transitions.

Courtesy: FTC Solar

Can you delve into some of the key engineering innovations about the Voyager+?

The Voyager+ stands out as a premier 2P tracker, especially suited for challenging terrains and diverse soil conditions. Its design prioritizes construction efficiency and rapid installation, setting industry benchmarks with significant cost savings on materials. The Voyager+’s engineering success stems from its ability to offer unparalleled design flexibility and operational reliability, leading to a superior return on investment for our clients. Key innovations include our Slide & Guide module installation mechanism, which simplifies the mounting process akin to hanging a picture. Moreover, the tracker reduces the need for piles by 46%, cuts labor costs, and decreases DC wiring by 35%, enhancing overall project efficiency.


Under your leadership, FTC Solar has seen rapid expansion globally. What do you attribute this success to, and how do you maintain competitive edge in such a fast-evolving market?

Our rapid global expansion can be attributed to two fundamental elements: our core values and our diverse international team. At FTC Solar, we uphold values of customer centricity, integrity, innovation, accountability, and excellence—principles that permeate every aspect of our operations and project delivery. Additionally, our global presence, with teams stationed across nine international locations, equips us with a unique perspective on the solar industry’s diverse challenges and opportunities. This broad outlook, free from regional biases, enables us to effectively tailor our strategies and solutions to meet varied market demands.

FTC Solar places a strong emphasis on customer collaboration. Can you provide examples of how this approach has shaped product development and project execution at FTC Solar?

Customer centricity is at the heart of everything we do at FTC Solar. Our product development process is deeply collaborative, rooted in a thorough understanding of our customers’ current and future challenges. By engaging closely with our clients, we gather valuable insights that inform our innovations and operational strategies. For instance, our hands-on approach includes joint on-site assembly of the first solar array row and comprehensive training programs, ensuring that every project adheres to best practices while fostering a smooth installation process. This proactive engagement not only enhances project outcomes but also strengthens our customer relationships, driving our collective success.

What are some of the biggest challenges FTC Solar has faced in scaling up operations internationally, and how have you adapted your strategy to overcome them?

One significant challenge in international markets has been advocating for the adoption of solar trackers over traditional fixed-tilt systems. We've addressed this through extensive customer education on the long-term value and reliability of our tracking solutions. Another major hurdle has been adapting our supply chain to align with local regulations and content requirements. For example, in markets like South Africa, we've expanded our supplier base to include local businesses, thereby not only complying with local mandates but also fostering community growth and development.

How do you see FTC evolving to meet future workplace safety and productivity needs?

At FTC Solar, safety is paramount—no aspect of our operations supersedes the health and well-being of our team. We are committed to continuous improvement of our safety protocols and procedures, ensuring that our work environment adheres to the highest standards of safety and health. Looking forward, we aim to integrate advanced safety technologies and refine our operational protocols to further enhance workplace safety and productivity.

What are the next big trends or technologies in solar energy that you think will significantly impact the industry, and how is FTC Solar preparing to be at the forefront of these changes?

Staying ahead of industry trends is crucial, and at FTC Solar, we pride ourselves on our forward-thinking approach. FTC’s zero-stow strategy has been core to our innovation driving lower costs for our customers, and which also, technically, reduces structural stress during high-wind events and prevents modules from microcracking damage. We are also focusing on designs that expedite installation and reduce costs, which is increasingly important due to rising labor shortages and costs.

As a leader in the renewable energy sector, how does FTC Solar integrate sustainability and corporate responsibility into its business practices and product development?

Sustainability is integral to our operations at FTC Solar. We adhere to strict environmental management systems aligned with ISO 14001 standards, aiming for continuous improvement in our sustainability practices. Our commitment extends beyond compliance to proactive environmental stewardship, which involves setting and achieving stringent environmental targets, conducting regular audits, and engaging our entire workforce in our sustainability initiatives. By fostering an environment of responsibility and awareness, we ensure that our business practices not only meet but exceed the expectations of our stakeholders and contribute positively.