Design your systems more faster and efficiently in Helios

The new Helios software update ensures significant improvements in two areas: 

  • Design panel layouts faster
  • More efficient ballast layout

Thanks to technical improvements in Helios, it takes less time to design panel layouts, ensuring you can go from design to offer faster. It is now easier to select, move and copy panels, and dilations in arrays are automatically and clearly implemented in the design.

Moreover, a new, more accurate ballast calculation is now used for the Autarco Matrix mounting system. This allows for a more precise allocation of the ballast, ensuring a system design does not become heavier than necessary. With this update, ballast layouts for the Matrix Symmetrical mounting system can now also be created. 


Relax and save time with the Autarco design service

Autarco introduces the complete design service. With the complete design service you can save time since our Autarco sales engineers will take over the entire design process for you.

This perfectly fits in our “Do what you do best, we do the rest” proposition, where we support our dealers as much as possible. Examples of this are our active performance monitoring and marketing support. With this proposition, our dealers are able to fully focus on growing their business. Contact your Autarco account manager if you are interested in knowing more about this service and the prices.

Don't need the full design service but still want the assurance that your projects are modelled as efficiently as possible? We will optimise your project free of charge if the following data are added to your Helios design:

  • The azimuth, height and slope of the roof are known.
  • Solar panel- and mounting system type are known
  • It is clear which roof surfaces are selected
  • An inverter is selected

Autarco introduces home battery solution

In line with current trends, Autarco will introduce a home battery solution in March 2022 aimed at systems up to 30kWp. This intelligent energy solution will consist of a hybrid inverter for new installations or an AC coupled battery charger, to provide already existing Autarco solar power systems with battery storage. Autarco has opted for modular batteries, whereby the total storage capacity can easily be adjusted according to need by using different modules.

Autarco storage inverters will operate on an open platform and are compatible with a range of leading batteries, including LG Chem, BYD, PylonTech and others. This approach provides maximum flexibility to find the best solution and reduces supply chain dependencies.

Integration in Helios and the MyAutarco app

These new products are fully integrated into the Autarco total solution. For this, a number of things will be adjusted in our own software Helios and in the Autarco monitoring App MyAutarco. For example, it becomes possible in Helios to upload consumption profiles. Combined with the current revenue calculations, this allows us to calculate a business case even more accurately. Home battery monitoring is fully supported in the MyAutarco app.

Self-sufficiency

Our company name ‘Autarco’ comes from the word ‘autarky’ which in turn has its origin in the classical Greek word αύτάρκεια, which means self-sufficiency. We believe in a future where individuals, households, businesses and communities can thrive peacefully and in harmony with their environment. Self-sufficiency in the field of energy is central to this. With the current rising gas and energy prices, it is becoming increasingly profitable for households to invest in a home battery.

About Autarco

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

For more information and exciting news about Autarco you can contact us at marketing@autarco.com. If you have any questions regarding Autarco products and services please feel free to contact sales@autarco.com.


Internal PELD

PELD stands for Power Export Limiter device and limits the power output to a specified level. Autarco already provides a separately sold PELD which is mainly used for larger  PV-systems with multiple inverters.

For smaller systems with one inverter the Internal PEL feature can be used on our newest Mark-II inverters. This can be done with a separately sold energy meter (S2.1P-SMARTMETER.1 for 1-phase grade tied connections, S2.3P-SMARTMETER.1 for 3-phase grid tied connections) which is easily connected to the inverter. Once connected to the inverter, the internal PEL feature ensure grid exports are constantly measured and will not exceed the set value. A PELD can specifically be used to improve the business case of your customers in the following two cases.

  1. When power output needs to be limited because the internal AC device or grid can not handle a higher power out.
  2. When the grid operator (temporarily) demands that  no or limited energy may be supplied to the grid.

Click here to learn more about our newest Mark-II inverters

Autarco will be present at Solar Solutions 2021

Autarco will be present at Solar Solutions in 2021. This year the exhibition will be held on the 28th, 29th and 30th September and we can be found at stand number C9. Autarco dealers and relations can visit the exhibition for free by using our discount code. Your Autarco account manager can tell you more about this.

 

Solar Solutions is the largest B2B exhibition of solar energy in North-West Europe, and takes place in the Expo Haarlemmermeer in Vijfhuizen. More than 100 practical seminars will be held on topics concerning the latest developments in the solar industry such as energy storage, smart products and an increasingly wide range of available solar panels.


Building_blocks

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).

Or:

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

Research


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%.