What is a digital twin?

The added value of our 'Digital Twin'

There is so much marketing jargon these days that it’s hard for us to use the term Digitized or “Digital Twin” without feeling like we’re trying to impress with hollow terms. That is why we have decided to explain a term often used by Autarco such as ‘Digital Twin’ in layman terms.

The added value of Autarco’s ‘Digital Twin’ is that it allows us to actively measure the weather-dependent performance of the system at 15-minute intervals. This accurate performance analysis allows us to verify whether installations are performing as expected. If this is not the case, we can respond quickly to problems through timely detection. The end result is an average performance improvement of 8% for residential PV systems and a 5% improvement for commercial systems.

What is the "Digital Twin"

The ‘Digital Twin’ is an exact digital replica of your physical system. It is created in our software, Helios, during the design phase of your project. It forms the basis for the system that will be installed on your roof, the yield we expect the system to have for the kWh guarantee and ultimately the price that the installer asks you to pay.

The ‘Digital Twin’ is designed on top of an elevation map that the designer can adjust to add or remove obstacles. Shade is modeled not only from a chimney on your roof, but also from the tree or hill behind your house.

How do we use the 'Digital Twin'?

Autarco uses the ‘Digital Twin’ to:

  • Verify that the installation is made according to the design and that it is correctly positioned. We can achieve a high level of trust through our remote verification, but we also rely on working with the best network of dealers who maintain high quality standards.
  • Detect defects or abnormalities that occur during the life of the system.

In short: the solar power system on your roof must match the calculation of the “Digital Twin” in terms of yield. If this doesn’t happen, something is often wrong.

Simple explanation in layman terms

We are now going to simplify some technical details of the ‘Digital Twin’ using children’s toys.

A solar power system consists of a number of “strings”, which are solar panels that are connected to each other in groups. They usually consist of six to 20 panels, depending on the system size.

In Autarco’s digitized inverters, each string is monitored individually and provides detailed information to our European cloud every five to fifteen minutes.

The information in these messages (voltage, current, power) creates a “shape” that constantly changes based on the actual system design, different shade levels, environmental conditions and possible product defects. You can compare each string in the monitoring message with a 3D block (see image below).

At the same time, the “Digital Twin” creates an expectation of the “shape” of each string. To do this, we use data that we receive from different satellites (irradiance, cloud cover and temperature) that we receive every 15 minutes to represent reality as well as possible. We can usually match this satellite data to less than 1 km from your actual location across Europe. Think of the expectation generated by the digital twin as the holes in the ball.

The monitoring messages are the 3D shapes that must fit into the holes. There is a hole and a shape for each ‘string’. If one of the shapes doesn’t fit in the cube, something is wrong and Helios automatically creates a notification in the system. We then check the system for defects.

Who else can do this?

No one.

Autarco is currently the only solar company worldwide that uses this technology.

How does Autarco calculate the expected yield?

How soon can you expect a return on your investment?

Renewable energy generated from natural sources such as wind and sun is a hot topic in the Netherlands. After all, we all have to become more sustainable in order to achieve the set climate objectives. The government stimulates this process with, among other things, subsidies and a netting scheme. This ensures that more and more houses, business premises, schools and factory roofs are equipped with solar panels. In short, the solar energy sector is thriving. However, individuals and companies do not place solar panels on the roof purely for idealistic reasons. The initial investment in a solar power system must be recouped. Preferably as soon as possible!

How is an expected return calculated?

The installer’s quote states an expected return on an annual basis and an estimated payback period. There are several models to calculate this with different levels of accuracy. At its core, however, the expected return is based on:

  • Historical weather data
  • The slope and azimuth of the roof
  • Shadow analysis

The historical weather data usually looks at data from the past 15 to 30 years and calculates an average from that. Add all these different factors together and it becomes quite a complicated calculation. Just because of the high degree of shade and a wide variety of roofs, there is often a considerable margin of error in this estimate.

The expected yield of your system is based on this long-term average, but due to annual variation in sunlight and temperature around this average, this can go up to +/-15%.

Very large projects typically make two types of yield estimates that take into account this variation in irradiance and other factors:

P50: The expected yield that will be achieved half the time

P90: The expected yield with 90% confidence.

Analysis of 20% of all utility projects in the US by kWh Analytics* shows that P90 production events, thus failing to achieve the stated efficiency, are actually three times more common than the P90 definition implies. The impact of these performance events on P90 is that the realized return is half lower than originally estimated.

Monitoring of current weather data is essential

While these P50 and P90 forecasts are useful for financial modeling prior to project construction, any reliable performance indicator needs to be adjusted to the weather once installed.

As you can see in the graph above, the Netherlands has had a higher irradiance in recent years compared to the historical average. Therefore, it is likely that underperformance of a solar power system will remain undiscovered. The system can achieve the expected yield stated in the quotation, but if it was an extremely sunny year, the system could even underperform by up to 15%.

At Autarco, we allow for some natural variation in modeling and data accuracy, and define any system that performs less than 95% of its weather-adjusted forecast as substandard.

Within the industry, weather-adjusted performance is measured through a metric called the “Energy Performance Index” (EPI). The EPI is also defined as the actual weather-corrected forecast of a solar power system.

This is where Autarco’s ‘Digital Twin’ and our data management skills make the difference. With other design software, the ‘digital copy’ is removed once the final quote and installation plans are generated. Our ‘Digital Twin’ remains active. We use this to verify the correct installation of the system and then to base the system’s performance on current weather data that we receive every 15 minutes for every square kilometer in Europe.

A monitoring portal only shows if a system is producing power, but does not provide a relevant benchmark for performance. That’s why Autarco’s kWh guarantee and weather-dependent performance monitoring are so important.

Autarco makes changes to its kWh guarantee

Systems with a kWh guarantee and active performance monitoring perform significantly better

Autarco is the only Dutch brand of solar power systems with an insured kWh guarantee. The value of this yield guarantee and the associated service and maintenance that is provided is enormous. Research into the performance of 5000 PV systems has shown that Autarco systems with a kWh guarantee perform three times better than comparable systems without.

Because we see an increase in the demand for revenue and PR (performance ratio) guarantees and operations and maintenance services, a number of things will change as of June 17, 2021.

Costs per kilowatt hour reduced

The free yield guarantee for the first five years after installation disappears. Instead, Autarco introduces two different kWh guarantees:

  • A Standard kWh guarantee insured by Autarco
  • A Premium kWh guarantee insured by the kWh guarantee fund foundation and Lloyd’s of London

Since the free kWh warranty for the first five years will disappear, the costs will increase slightly. However, this is more than offset by a reduction in the costs of yield guarantees for a period of ten or fifteen years. These are sometimes more than half cheaper.

Extra income for dealers through the sale of the kWh guarantee

Autarco dealers can generate extra income with the sale of the kWh guarantee. Autarco pays a commission for each kWh guarantee sold. There is also a chance of a performance bonus. This allows our dealers to benefit from recurring revenues and increase their net margin by up to 40%.

Operations and maintenance contract mandatory

For systems larger than 30 kWp, it is mandatory to conclude a service and maintenance contract. An Autarco dealer can choose to offer a service and maintenance contract themselves or have Autarco manage the service and maintenance.

Higher guaranteed return

We noticed that when the sun is low in the sky, we estimate the production of the solar panels too high. On an annual basis, our indication was correct. To make our calculations even more accurate, we’ve introduced things like angle reflection and an improved model for shading between the rows. This makes it possible to calculate the expected yield of a solar power system even more accurately than before. That is why we can now issue a higher yield guarantee.

P.R. Guarantees

Autarco will now also issue fully insured Performance Ratio (PR) guarantees to customers based on current satellite data. PR guarantees will only be issued for PV systems larger than 30 kWp.

Generate additional income by selling the Autarco kWh guarantee

How to monetize the kWh guarantee?

Autarco dealers can now generate additional income from the sale of the kWh guarantee starting the 17th of June 2021. For each kWh guarantee sold, Autarco pays a commission of 10% of the total amount to the dealer. There is also a chance of a performance bonus if the installed systems generate high yields. This allows our dealers to benefit from recurring revenue and increase their net margin by up to 40%.

Additional income

Autarco dealers can extend the customer lifecycle with the sale of the kWh guarantee and operations and maintenance packages (O&M). For projects larger than 30 kilowatts, the purchase of a service and maintenance package in combination with a kWh guarantee is mandatory. In this way we guarantee safe solar power systems that perform well.

Various constructions are possible in which:

  • Autarco issues the kWh guarantee to the end customer and Autarco provides full service and maintenance.
  • Autarco issues the kWh guarantee to the end customer and provides the dealer with service and maintenance.
  • Autarco issues the kWh guarantee to the end-customer and no O&M contract is required (only for systems less than 30 kilowatts!)

Depending on the sold construction (kWh warranty and Service & Maintenance), the dealer receives at least a commission of 10% of the total sales amount. This commission is paid annually or once every five years. There is also a performance bonus for dealers with systems that deliver between 100 and 115% of the estimated return.

For instance:

A 250 kW Autarco system with 15 years of standard service and maintenance and a 15-year premium guarantee (0.10/kWh) can generate a total of € 6,000 in recurring revenues (0.024/Wp).


If a dealer installs three Megawatts of Autarco solar panels per year with 15 years of standard service and maintenance plus a 15-year standard guarantee (0.10/kWh), this can generate a total of € 27,000 in revenue. If the systems perform above average, the dealer will also receive a performance bonus of € 9000.

If the same dealer sells the Premium kWh warranty instead of the standard kWh warranty, the commission will increase to 36,000 over a period of 15 years.

“By selling the Autarco kWh guarantee and O&M packages our dealers can increase their net margin up to 40%”

Dan Horan, CEO Autarco

A standard and premium guarantee

Autarco offers customers the option to choose from two different kWh guarantees:

  • A standard kWh guarantee insured by Autarco on a portfolio level
  • A premium kWh guarantee insured individually by the kWh guarantee fund foundation and Lloyd’s of London

Insuring the yield of a solar power system is possible from € 0.10 per kWh with a standard kWh guarantee.

About Autarco

Autarco is the only producer to supply a solar energy system in which all components are developed in-house and therefore connect seamlessly. Thanks to this total solution, Autarco can also offer the kWh guarantee, with which you are guaranteed to save on your energy bill in the long term.

The performance of your Autarco system is insured through the independent Stichting kWh-guarantee fund in collaboration with the world’s largest insurer Lloyd’s Of London. Is the system underperforming? Then the difference is simply paid out in cash per kilowatt hour missed.

45% of solar systems underperforms

Systems with an insured kWh guarantee and active performance monitoring perform three times better.

An analysis of nearly three thousand bankable residential roof systems in the Netherlands, looking at performance data up to 8 years ago, shows that only 55% of the systems without a kWh guarantee achieve the expected yield. On the other hand, systems with a kWh guarantee provide better performance. 85% of the systems with a kWh guarantee perform as expected or even exceed expectations. Of course, a kWh guarantee does not in itself improve the performance of a system, but the processes and software that make this guarantee possible do.

Design and system checks

After the design and installation of a residential solar power system, the majority of solar installers in the Netherlands spend hardly any energy on O&M. Whether your solar panels actually deliver the estimated yield and are installed correctly remains uncertain.

Larger PV systems of over 5 Megawatt (more than 10.000 panels) are better maintained and monitored, however, for example, an analysis of 20% of all utility projects in the US by kWh Analytics* shows that P90 production events, i.e. not achieving the stated efficiency, are actually three times more common than the P90 definition implies. The impact of these performance events on P90 is that the realized return can be up to half of what was originally estimated.

Unnecessary loss of yield

The outcome of Autarco’s study shows that, even when using high quality products, in many cases this loss of efficiency can be prevented with good maintenance, supporting software and accurate use of (historical) weather data. After all, based on this, we are able to  issue our high insured kWh guarantee.

What sets Autarco apart

During the design phase of a solar power system, Autarco makes a ‘Digital Twin’, or a digital copy, of the physical system design. Before we issue a kWh guarantee, every new system is verified against this Digital Twin. For example, we check the installation plan and the complete installation of the inverter and solar panels. This ensures that the system is installed safely and according to the correct specifications.

Even after installation and issuance of the kWh guarantee, Autarco continues to monitor each system. If a solar power system performs less than 95% of what it should deliver according to the ‘Digital Twin’, we will contact the installer so that he can check the installation again and solve any problems. Autarco only provides this aftercare for solar power systems with a kWh guarantee.

Weather-corrected forecast

The Netherlands has had a higher irradiance in recent years compared to the historical average. Therefore, it is more likely that underperformance of a solar power system will remain undiscovered. The system can achieve the expected yield stated in the quotation, but if it was an extremely sunny year, the system could still underperform by up to 15%.

At Autarco, we allow for some natural variation in modeling and data accuracy, and define any system that performs less than 95% of its weather-adjusted forecast as under-performing


Autarco bases its conclusion on data from 2679 solar power systems, of which 1638 have a kWh guarantee and 1041 do not. The systems without a kWh guarantee have not received a professional check after installation. These systems also lack corrected performance monitoring based on current weather data. The investigated solar power systems consist of Tier-1 quality solar panels and inverters.

These systems are using identical hardware with a common set of installers. The only material difference is whether the system has received the special care and attention that Autarco gives to systems with a performance guarantee.

Our findings are also supported by an expanded 2020 Energy Validation Study completed by DNV GL, a leading energy consultant and engineering firm, that demonstrate that the median performance of commercial projects  below 50kW is only 94.6%.

MHJ serie zonnepanelen

Autarco introduces solar panels with a maximum power output of 410Wp

Autarco introduces solar panels with a maximum power output of 410Wp

MHJ serie zonnepanelen

MHJ series

Autarco introduces the MHJ series solar panels. Efficient solar panels with a maximum power of 410Wp and dimensions of 1708 x 1133 millimeters. The panel features 108 cells, each measuring 182 x 91 millimeter. The MHJ series comes with a 25-year insured linear power guarantee of up to 84.8%.

The solar panels of this MHJ series use semi-cut monocrystalline PERC cells with advanced multiwire technology to deliver higher efficiency without sacrificing reliability at a nominal voltage of 1500V DC. The panels have an innovative design with a high power output of more than 212 Wp / m2.

Mounting solutions

The MHJ Series delivers a higher power module without causing headaches on the install side. The low weight (21.5kg) and short length (1708mm) make it perfect for pitched roof and small-medium commercial projects. All mounting materials are automatically proposed based on the digital twin in our design software Helios. 

When installing on pitched roofs new rail lengths will be proposed to match the new module widths. For flat roof systems, there are new base units, carriers and carrier supports.

80% of sales

The MHJ series panels are already available in Helios, Autarco’s design portal, and will be available for delivery in September 2021.

In addition to the MHJ series, we will soon be introducing three more panels that use 182mm and 210mm cells with a maximum power output of 450 Wp, 500 Wp and 605 Wp. As the market for solar panels develops, we expect that by 2022 80% of our turnover will consist of the sale of these 182 x 210mm cell panels.

About Autarco’s Total Solution

Autarco is the only manufacturer to supply a solar energy system in which all components are developed in-house and therefore connect seamlessly. Because of this total solution, Autarco can also offer the kWh guarantee, with which you are guaranteed to save on your energy bill in the long term.

The performance of your Autarco system is insured through the independent KWH Guarantee Fund Foundation in collaboration with the world’s largest insurer Lloyd’s Of London. Is the system performing less? Then the difference is simply paid out in cash.

Intelligent energy solutions by Autarco and Tigo

Intelligent energy solutions by Autarco and Tigo

For rooftops with a lot of shade, or in cases where insurers require that the voltage of the solar power system can be reduced to a safe voltage, Autarco, in combination with Tigo optimizers, offers a highly intelligent energy solution where safety and cost efficiency are paramount.

In addition to major cost benefits and lower installation costs, our intelligent technology reduces the risk of errors and connector mismatch. Autarco is the only Dutch brand that offers a total solar solution in which all parts are developed in-house. This way we can guarantee that all connectors of an Autarco system are equipped with original MC4 connectors from Staubli. This relatively small adjustment significantly reduces fire risk and makes Autarco systems one of the safest on the market.

The benefits of these optimizers

Great cost benefits in the calculation

The biggest advantage of Tigo, in combination with Autarco, is that only the panels that suffer from shadow fall need to be fitted with Tigo optimizers. But then you must be able to determine which panels these are! This is very easy with the Helios software from Autarco.

The result: savings of up to 10,000 euros on a 150 kWp system compared to a SolarEdge system, for example, where the entire roof is always provided with optimizers, even though most panels do not suffer from shade.

For instance:

  • A roof with 500 panels, of which only 20 panels are shaded.
  • 250 SolarEdge duo optimizers, cost € 12500 (estimate)
  • 20 pieces of Tigo optimizers, costs € 540

The saving is therefore almost € 12,000 in material costs. This does not even include the additional installation costs of installing 230 optimizers.

Selective application with different Tigos

Autarco works with both the Tigo optimizer (TS4-A-O) and the safety module (TS4-A-S). These two products differ in function but also in price and can be used in combination in a solar power system. If an insurer requires that the entire roof can be switched back to low voltage immediately, then you only apply optimizers to the panels that are actually in the shade. On the other panels you apply the cheaper safety modules, which only ensure that the panel goes back to 1V when necessary. The combination means that you can optimize the business case for your customer because you are more specific and cheaper but just as safe!

Lower installation costs

In cases where there is only limited shade on the roof, an installer can save considerably on installation costs, as far fewer Tigo optimizers are installed.

Less chance of errors

It is often underestimated: optimizers increase the risk of errors because there is more electronics on the roof. Using the Helios design software developed by Autarco, users are able to reduce shadow drop to less than 5% loss in most cases. In such a case, it is not economically profitable to include optimizers in the system because the additional returns from optimizers do not contribute positively to the business case of your customer. A normal system with string inverter in combination with the kWh guarantee guaranteed by Lloyd’s of London is the best solution.

Why? Optimizers are precious. In addition, with optimizers you increase the number of connections on the roof and electronics are placed on the roof, which can also break. Because Autarco, in combination with Tigo optimizers, minimizes the number of optimizers required, and precisely adjusts it to the actual economic need, such a system is less susceptible to malfunctions than, for example, a SolarEdge system with many more optimizers on the same roof surface.

Module level rapid shutdown and arc fault detection

Tigo optimizers (in combination with Autarco), like competing systems, have the option to switch high voltage on the roof back to a safe voltage if necessary (or required by insurance). All Autarco inverters are also equipped with arc fault detection.

But with Autarco, arcs are not only detected. They are also prevented. In a SolarEdge system,different makes of MC4 plugs are clicked together. An Autarco system is much safer, because Autarco only uses original Staubli MC4 plugs on panels, inverters and Tigo optimizers.

Autarco, in combination with Tigo, offers a full-fledged solution that ensures that the risk of fire due to electric arcs and connector mismatch is minimized, while any extinguishing work can be carried out safely because there is no high voltage present.

About Autarco

We are a Dutch company specialized in solar power solutions for pitched and flat roofs. As a solar producer we focus on what we are good at: innovation and delivering optimal total solutions. We have a strong network of Authorized Dealers who are specialized in the installation and maintenance of Autarco solar power systems.

The advantages of an Autarco system at a glance:

– One complete solar power system (solar panels, inverters, mounting system, monitoring software, cables, connectors, etc.) from one Dutch brand.

– Unique kilowatt-hour (kWh) guarantee insured by Lloyd’s of London

– 24/7 system monitoring

– Seamless integration into the Helios design system

– Asset Management

– Monitoring per panel possible via the Tigo portal

From 2021 to 2023 solar panels will also fall under the ISDE subsidy

From 2021 to 2023 solar panels also fall under the ISDE subsidy

In the Netherlands, subsidies tumble over each other. Each subsidy is intended to contribute to the sustainable energy transition in the Netherlands. Most subsidies are not product-specific, which means that it is not clear which subsidies are useful for specific business cases. Therefore we are putting the ISDE subsidy in the spotlight, which is especially useful for businesses. 

ISDE stands for Investment Investerings Subsidie Duurzame Energie (Subsidy Sustainable Energy in English) and was created for both private and business users. It offers subsidies for various projects such as the purchase of heat pumps, solar boilers, connecting to a heat network and for 5 types of insulation materials. The ISDE has been present in the landscape since 2016 and will remain available until at least 2030. Temporarily solar panels will also fall under the ISDE, namely from 2021 to 2023.

The difference between the ISDE subsidy and the more well known SDE++. 

The SDE++ is better known as Stimulering Duurzame Energieproductie (Stimulating Sustainable Energy Production in English) for large user connections (everything above 3×80 Ampere). The ISDE was created for the so-called small users with a connection up to 3×80 Ampere.

You can check what kind of connection you have by looking at the invoice from your energy supplier, which will show the costs of the grid manager. With a high-volume connection, you pay these costs directly to the grid manager rather than to the energy supplier.

With a small consumer connection, you as a business user have the opportunity to install up to approximately 160 panels of 380 Watt peak. It is advantageous if you can then receive a subsidy of €125 per kW of combined peak capacity.

There are, however, a number of conditions are required to successfully apply for the ISDE:

  • A connection for small consumption, maximum 3×80 Ampere.
  • In the previous year, you have a net consumption of at least 50,000 kWh;
  • You can apply for ISDE for a capacity between 15 and 100 kWp;
  • You have to put the solar panels into use within 12 months;
  • They have been installed by a recognised construction or installation company;
  • The panels are installed on or in your building.

To avoid problems, the order in which you apply for the ISDE is important. You start with a request for a quotation for the solar panels, then you apply for the subsidy and only after approval do you sign the purchase agreement.

Would you also like to help your end customer with the application of ISDE subsidy? Autarco can submit the full application for the subsidy for just €100. This will be settled when the project is accepted and delivered.

Tip! Do you have a connection above 3x80A? In  this case you can apply for the SDE++ subsidy. Autarco can help you with this!

5 factor to consider when choosing a solar panel size

5 factors to consider when choosing a solar panel size

Historically speaking, there have always been two different sizes of solar panels. One with 60 cells for residential roofs and one with 72 cells for larger commercial projects. This worked because the size of a solar cell was measured in a uniform unit. However, this will change in 2021 (see our article on developments in 2021). The solar panels that are now being introduced have different sizes with the common denominator being that they are a lot larger than their predecessors.

Extra choice is nice! But what exactly should you look for when choosing the right size solar panel? We will explain it to you in this article.

5 factors

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right size of solar panel for the job:

  • The load-bearing capacity of the mounting system (mechanical load)
  • The compatibility of the inverter
  • Labour legislation (larger panels are heavier!)
  • Design flexibility
  • Storage and logistics

Each of these bullet will be explained separately below.

Mechanical load

Solar panels are not only becoming larger, but also heavier. The mounting system used to mount the panels on the roof must be designed to handle this weight. Also, the standard mounting lengths of these systems are often incompatible with panels that are wider than 1100 millimetres.

Longer/wider modules also have a greater chance of micro-cracks if they are not installed with the correct mounting system. Check with the manufacturer of the solar modules whether clamping on the short side is permitted and up to what mechanical load (2400 or 1800Pa). If damage to the modules has occurred due to the use of an incorrect roof mounting system, the product warranty may be invalidated.

The Autarco Apex and Matrix roof mounting systems are already fully compatible with the 182 millimetre modules (450 Wp).

The compatibility of the inverter

Many of the new modules, and specifically those generating more than 500Wp, have higher current voltages than the average inverter can handle. Autarco inverters will be upgraded to 14A DC input and 16A DC input to create more possibilities for larger solar panels.

Also, thanks to the Autarco ‘digital twin’ and current weather data, we can make an accurate calculation of the maximum output of a solar power system. This enables us to ensure that the inverter can cope with any situation.

Labour legislation

Once again: solar panels are not only getting bigger but also heavier! Current legislation states that if a solar panel weighs more than 23 kg, it must be lifted onto the roof by more than one person. Heavier panels will therefore most likely mean that more installers are involved in a project and therefore less efficiency.

The MHI and our new 405 Wp solar panels both weigh less than 23 kg. Panels with a maximum output above 420Wp are either:

  • Heavier than 23 kilograms
  • Use glass that is thinner than 3.2 millimetres (strongly discouraged!)

Design flexibility

A length of between 1700 and 1800 millimetres is ideal for solar panels on a residential pitched roof. This is exactly how three solar panels fit next to each other.

On roofs with several obstacles, it is advisable to use smaller panels. These often generate a higher yield than larger panels due to a higher degree of design flexibility (you can often fit more!).

Storage and logistics

Crucial but often forgotten: a standard forklift has ‘forks’ of 1200 millimetres wide. These can only lift solar panels larger than 1800 millimetres on the ‘long’ side. This can have consequences for the delivery if it is not possible to load the forklift from the side.

Furthermore, it is already advisable to unpack pallets full of panels with two staff members. This is certainly a requirement for larger panels. The right number of personnel must therefore be available for this.

Autarco’s advice

Do not be blinded by the number of Watt peak that a solar panel can generate. Make sure the solar panels you buy have an efficiency of at least 205W/m2 but also take into account other factors including: logistics, system assembly and of course the total expected installation costs.

Solar panels: The most important trends and developments in 2021

Solar panels: the most important trends and developments in 2021

Solar panels are still very much mass produced. Every regular, affordable solar panel uses the same technology: 

  • P-type PERC Mono
  • Multiwire technology 
  • Half-cut or third-cut cells 

They also all deliver similar yields yields (approx. 20.4% and 21% / 210Wp/m2). 

There are three important factors in which solar panels try to differentiate themselves from each other:

  • The quality of raw materials used during production in combination with quality controls and standards used in the production panels of the solar panels
  • The offered product and performance guarantees (the kWh guarantee).
  • The dimensions of the solar panels

Especially the latter has become very relevant this year. In previous years there were two available solar panel dimensions. A smaller panel for the residential market and a larger panel for the commercial market. At the end of 2021 there most likely will be 15 panels with different dimensions.

Why larger solar panels?

As we discussed earlier the status quo used to be two solar panel sizes. A residential panel with 60 cells and another one with 72 cells for commercial projects. This worked because the dimensions of the cells were the same.

Different size wafers

From this year on the dimesions of solar cells will deviate significantly. This is because different sized “Wafers”. A Wafer is a thin sheet of silicium, which will turn into a solar cell once it has undergone a chemical process and a positive and negative charge. In 2021 different wafer sizes will be used in the production of solar panels. 

Available Wafer dimensions in the market 2021:


 Dimensions(mm) 158 158.75 166 182 210
Name M2 M3 M6 M10 G12


Due to the changes is wafer dimensions two 60 cell solar panels can differentiate significantly from each other while this previously would not have been the case.

Changes in cell arangement

Moreover the industry is introducing new ways for solar cells to be arranged. To further explain this we will use two examples of how this would look like for a 210mm cell:

  • Third cut, 5 wide, 24 long (120TC)
  • Half cut, 6 wide, 22 long (132HC) 

The combination of the used technique, wafer dimensions and cell dimensions determine the dimensions of a solar panel.

Autarco solar panels 2021

At the end of 2021 we want to offer the following solar panels:

Residential full black: 395/400Wp (108HC 6×18 182mm)

  • <1.8m fits with three  in a row  on a slanted roof of a house. 
  • Weighs less than 23 kg.
  • Easy logistical processing

Slanted and flat roofs (commercial) <500kWp: 450Wp (120HC 6×20 182mm)

  • Approoved for clamping on the short side of flat roofs such that no extra windcaculations are neccessary.
  • Easy logistical processing
  • Easily to combine with the improved ’16A input current’ on the inverters.

Flat roofs (commercial) >500kWp: 490Wp (132HC 6×22 182mm)

  • Maximum performance possible with existing mounting systems  (wind/snow analysis and extra support required).
  • Easy to combine with existing mounting systems for flat roofs

Industrial:  530/590Wp (144HC 6×24 182/210mm)

  • Maximum yield >500Wp

The mounting systems (flat roofs) is still in development.


Series W L Format Cell matrix Cell (mm) KG Carrier support SYMM Carrier support UNNI Ballast plate support
MHE345 1005 1648 60/158 6×20 158.75 19.1 N N N
MHI380 1038 1755 60/166 6×20 166 20.5 N N N
MHJ405 1133 1706 54/182 6*18 182 21.2 Y Y N
MHK415 1038 1924 66/166 6*22 166 22.0 Y>1200N/m2 N N
MHH450 1038 2094 72/166 6*24 166 23.5 Y to max 900N/m2 Y to max 900N/m2 N
MHL450 1133 1890 60/182 6*20 182 23.2 Y (custom N) Y N
MHM490 1133 2073 66/182 6*22 182 25.1 Y to max 1000N/m2 N, max 1000 N/m2 Y
MHN530 1133 2256 72/182 6*24 182 27.2 Portrait Portrait Portrait
MHO590 1303 2172 72/210 6*24 210 30.9 Portrait Portrait Portrait