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


Solar up under lockdown

Did Netherlands Covid-19 lockdowns affect the performance of solar systems

On March 15, the Dutch PM announced that “All schools, cafes, restaurants and sports clubs will be closed in the Netherlands to stop the spread of coronavirus.” 3 months of hard lock down that most of us would happily forget followed. As we find ourselves starting to emerge from a second lockdown and starting to see light at the end of the tunnel it’s a good time to go back and see if we can find some positives from a difficult time.

It is reasonably well established that the natural environment benefited from a reduction in human activity during lockdown periods across the globe. Two of the most known examples are the clearing of the canals in Venice (some say the return of birdlife was also a result, but any one who has been to St Mark’s square knows there are plenty of birds in Venice!) and the reduction in pollution over Wuhan.

But what about the more direct impact on solar systems in the Netherlands? The graph below shows a clear increase over the 5yr and 30yr averages for the lockdown periods.

Impact of Dutch lockdown on irradiance

Graph 1

Irradiance overview Netherlands

Graph 2

The irradiance levels in April and May increased on the 30yr average by 29% and 24% respectively. These values are at the extremes at what would be expected based on normal variation in weather conditions, but are theoretically possible. It is worth noting that the combined irradiance of April and May achieved in 2020 has not been exceeded since records began in 1983! Statistically these sunlight levels could be considered a 1 in 50 year event.

As the lockdown began to ease at the beginning of June the irradiance levels returned to their long term averages, which in our opinion provides further evidence that the lockdowns did in fact contributed to higher irradiance levels throughout the Netherlands.However, while the data certainly suggests a direct impact, the natural variability makes it difficult to conclusively state that this is caused by the lockdowns.

Irradiance variation is widely misunderstood and the effects on performance under-estimated.

Graph 2 shows that during the boom years of Netherlands solar, irradiance levels have consistently been above the long term averages.

When an expected yield is provided for a system in design phase a long term average of irradiance is used (more on P50 andP90 later). Over the past 5 years actual irradiance has been 10% above historic levels in the Netherlands, the logical expectation is that system performance should be over achieving the expected yields provided pre-build by 10%.

It is difficult to predict future trends in irradiance, clearer skies obviously have a positive impact, but there are also much larger climate and weather affects that influence these trends. A return to historic averages, or even lower, are very likely within the SDE timeline of projects being built. When this happens, we expect a lot of rooftop asset owners will discover their systems, they thought were doing well by meeting expectation are actually underperforming, and have been ever since installation. 

For larger ground mount systems and the largest industrial rooftops with owners who are solar professionals, pyronometers are used to measure on site irradiance and monitor relative performance, but these level of sophistication remains quite rare for the majority of SDE projects.

The Autarco way

At Autarco, all of our performance metrics are based on actual irradiance data that we receive in 15min intervals for all of Europe. Using the digital twin in Helios, this irradiance data is used to generate true expected values (or retrodicted for the nerds). This Delivers a true base line for performance (referred to as Energy Performance Index (EPI) and ensuring all our systems are generating at optimal levels. It’s just one more example of how we use the power of data and digitilisation to deliver on our promise; “Solar made simple. Performance made certain”

Introducing the Autarco OX Series

Our latest solar innovations

We hereby announce the availability of our digitilised inverters; the OX Series (80-110k) and the XLX-MII Series (25-40k). Both of these series deliver state-of-the art features that complement and build on the digital twin created in Helios during the design phase.

  • IV Curves
  • String level monitoring and alerts
  • Integrated AFCI
  • Residual Current Suppression
  • Advanced Grid Management

Read more about our digital solutions

OX Inverter

  • 80-110kW
  • 10MPPT
  • 26A MPPT Input
  • Quiet as a mouse

Learn more about OX

XLX-MII Inverter

  • 25-40 kW
  • 3 or 4 MPPT
  • i
  • i

Learn more about XLX-MII

Digitalised WIFI Stick

Our new WIFI stick also provides an upgraded monitoring and maintenance experience for every inverter in the product range.

  • Two way communication (Remote control)
  • Message Buffering
  • Improved hardware and LED indication

Other monitoring devices coming soon!


Sign up for online or on-site training

Online Training

  • OX Features
  • Digital O&M

On-Site Training

  • OX Features

Send us an email to sign up

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Autarco presents the latest in module innovation; the MHI Series

High power output of over 200 Wp/m2

Powerful panels up to 375Wp, featuring multi-busbar technology and 120 halfcut monocrystalline cells

A combination of innovations

Our latest solar panel series features 166mm large-size silicon wafers and monocrystalline PERC cells. The new panels come with the same innovative design features introduced with the MHE series allowing high power output of more than 200Wp/m2. Based on superior multi-busbar technology, the MHI series integrates advanced halfcut cells and non-destructive cutting.

The MHI series now comes with a 12 year product warranty and insured 25 year power output guarantee to 83.1%, thanks to our experience in manufacturing halfcut and multi-busbar technology.

MHI series key features

  • 166 mm large-size silicon wafers
  • Monocrystalline PERC cells
  • Available from 355 to 375Wp
  • Innovative design with high power output of over 200 Wp/m2
  • Superior multi-busbar technology, halfcut cells and non-destructive cutting
  • 12 year product guarantee
  • 25 year power output guarantee to 83.1%
  • PID resistant
  • Available in standard, black frame and full black

Additional benefits of Autarco’s total solution approach

  • Insured kWh guarantee: Our total solution approach allows us to insure kWh performance, when yields are lower than promised the foundation compensates in cash.
  • Reduce fire risk: The entire Autarco solution is provided with Staubli MC4 connectors for reduced fire risk together with our inverter integrated AFCI detection.
  • System design software: Helios software ensures mounting materials are automatically compatible with new MHI dimensions.

Deliveries of MHI365 and MHI370 are available from July. From today our Authorized Dealers are able to make system designs in Helios using the new MHI series. For more details view the full technical details below or download the datasheet.

View MHI technical details

Eindhoven invests in sustainability with 2.564 solar panels on 5 buildings

The municipality of Eindhoven is investing in sustainable energy through solar installations. Recently five municipality owned buildings were fitted with Autarco solar panels. A total of 2.564 solar panels will generate about 800.000 kWh per year, enough to power 280 households.

The scope of solar solutions in Eindhoven

The latest installation in Eindhoven is a system of 80 solar panels on the roof of Dynamo; a youth center, stage, workshop space and school all in one building. Earlier last month four other buildings in Eindhoven were fitted with solar: Parktheater, Effenaar, Sportpark Eindhoven Noord, sports hall De Vijfkamp and a tennis center.

In total there are 5.500 solar panels now on municipality owned buildings and by the end of 2020 their goal is to have 125 buildings fitted with solar panels.

  • 2.564 Autarco solar panels on 5 buildings
  • Installed by Van Hout advisors and installers
  • Generating 800.000 kWh per year
  • A total of 125 municipality owned buildings with solar by 2020
  • 5.500 solar panels in total now

“Global warming is caused by humanity and now it’s up to us to come up with a solution. As municipality we lead by example with investments in solar.”

Rik Thijs – Councilor Energy and Climate

Benefitting from the SDE+ subsidy

All government owned buildings in Eindhoven are equipped with a smart meter to keep track of the energy consumption. These meters also keep track of what’s generated in case of solar installations. Eindhoven believes that having these kinds of insights is the best start for sustainability as they can detect energy waste and optimise existing installations.

The next step is moving forward with solar and Eindhoven is advised and helped by Van Hout in getting SDE+ subsidy, making it easier to invest in solar. With the subsidy programme the Ministry aims to encourage the production of renewable energy in the Netherlands. Sustainable energy is better for the environment and it makes the Netherlands less dependent on fossil fuels. It also benefits the overall economy. Van Hout helped Eindhoven successfully get SDE+ subsidy for the solar projects.

Solar solutions in Eindhoven installed by Van Hout

Van Hout is at the forefront of mechanical engineering and sustainable energy. Van Hout is of course an expert at installing high quality systems, but it doesn’t stop there. They aim to truly add value to their clients, a challenge which ultimately sets them apart. Their advisors and installers always go the extra mile. In the case of this project this meant advising and helping Eindhoven get the SDE+ subsidy for sustainable projects.

Advisor Hans Van Hauwe: “By benefitting from the SDE+ subsidy it’s a lot easier to choose solar. With the subsidy it’s not about the cost anymore, only about the benefits.”

A combination of innovations: meet our new MHE series solar panels

Multi-wire and half cut cells for 340Wp solar panels

You’ve probably noticed your options for solar panel types have increased in the past few months. It has partly to do with the removal of MIP and partly to do with maturity of the next stage in solar panel advancements. As you know, Autarco never offered a 5BB halfcut and waited it out to directly deliver more advanced technologies, our Silverpoint and multi-wire halfcut panels. Let us explain why.

Our decision to skip directly to multi-wire technology

Choosing the right solar panel technology must be about more than finding the lowest EUR/Wp or finding the highest rated power. Our approach at Autarco is to offer our partners the solar panel with the perfect mix between price and long-term performance with a zero tolerance on sacrificing any reliability. In other words we seek to reduce EUR/kWh over a systems life (LCOE if you prefer) that can be delivered with certainty and insured. 

This approach resulted in a decision to not offer a 5BB half-cut solar panel in to the market and to skip directly to multi-wire and Silverpoint technology. The additional 5Wp in powerclass delivered by 5BB halfcut was not worth the additional risk that doubling the soldering points on traditional busbars introduced.

Combining two innovations into one new solar panel

Combining the recent multi-wire and halfcut developments into one solar panel, Autarco is now able to present its new MHE series, with the outstanding 120-cell 335Wp solar panel now available.

With halfcut cells, the cells that are capturing the sun’s energy are split in two, resulting in 120 cells in a traditional sized solar panel. Because of the smaller size, internal currents in the cells are lower, meaning less power losses and higher power classes for these solar panels. Because of the halfcut cells the solar panels are also less impacted by shade, further improving yields.

Multi-wire is a completely new technology compared to traditional busbars, it is a leap rather than a gradual shift like we saw from 3 to 4 to 5 busbars. There are fundamental changes in the way multi-wire technology works. You are using a thin round wire rather than a flat bus-bar which delivers some reflective benefits. Because lower pressure is exerted on the cell during soldering and lower temperature is used, the likelihood of interconnection and microcrack related defects is reduced. 

As well as a reduced likelihood of defects, if a defect does occur, the impact is far more contained, effectively impacting only 1/9 of the cell as opposed to 1/5. So although a halfcut solar panel has more soldering connections, risks are in fact smaller than in more traditional panels.

Our new MHE series solar panel is available for ordering now, act quickly if you don’t want to miss out! Contact us for more details or view the product documentation below.

View MHE technical details

Autarco leading the industry through drone aerial thermography

Autarco has initiated an industry-leading project designed to enhance the delivery of optimal performing solar systems. Together with Dutch Drone Company, O-Nexus and support from RVO, the project will provide new insights and tackle one of the biggest issues in the solar industry.

Why use drone-based aerial thermography?

As a company committed to innovation and digitisation of the industry, Autarco has been an early adopter of drone-based aerial thermography and is now seeking to maximise this new technology to its full extent.

This project will provide additional data to help deliver two improvements to our software through advanced data analytics and machine learning.

  1. Improve performance loss model
  2. Improve monitoring-based detection of defects

Advanced monitoring of solar performance

When an Autarco Authorized Dealer designs a system in our free software, a digital twin is created of your actual solar system. By using real-time satellite irradiance (sun levels) and temperature data, we calculate expected performance of this digital twin and compare it to the actual production of your system. If there is underperformance detected, quite often it is to do with vegetation growth, soiling or inverter failure. Occasionally underperformance may be caused by a defect in the solar panel which is far more difficult to detect and diagnose remotely.

In addition to being able to detect system underperformance this way, we can also detect anomalies in the monitoring data. The monitoring data we receive from your system includes the DC voltage and current data of each group of modules on your system. Using this we can already detect certain types of defects. A near perfect understanding of system design (e.g. stringing) and shade conditions is required to achieve an acceptable level of accuracy for this type of detection.

Autarco is one of very few companies who can achieve this, thanks to the digital twin and our integrated total solution approach.

How aerial thermography benefits our advanced monitoring

We want to improve our advanced monitoring even further. To achieve this we need more data to validate our models and calculations.

1. Improve performance loss model

If drone aerial thermography tells us that there are certain anomalies found, we want to be able to say with certainty what type of performance losses these anomalies are causing in the full system. There is no one in the industry who is currently able to do this reliably.

2. Improve monitoring-based detection of defects

If we can continue to improve the intelligence of our software in the future, we might not even need to use the drones to take the aerial thermography images. We can potentially fully detect and diagnose the defects in the solar panels entirely through our advanced monitoring data.

Drone flights are starting now. We are excited about the possibilities of this project and will share our findings with you as soon as they become available.

Operations & Maintenance for rooftop solar

The Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Best Practices Guide Version 3 was released last week at the annual O&M and Asset Management Conference in London. The latest version, developed by Solar Power Europe together with industry experts, now includes a chapter on distributed solar of which Autarco is very proud to be the leading author. The Guide is an excellent resource and we highly recommend all of our Dealers to take the time to read it carefully. O&M is not only critical to guarantee the long term performance of systems, but is also a huge opportunity for Dealers to develop long term relationship with their customers and generate stable and recurring revenue.

Recognition of Autarco's industry leadership.

The Guide covers key topics such as;

  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Recommended Response Times
  • Innovations and Trends

In recognition of the hard work and expertise provided by Autarco in the development of this chapter, our CFO, Dan Horan, was invited to make a keynote speech to introduce the new chapter. He explained during his presentation, “In the utility sector, asset owners are professionals who are knowledgeable about the risks of solar and have assistance from independent engineering, legal and insurance experts. As a result manufacturers, EPC’s and O&M suppliers are held accountable over the full 25-30 year life of a system. In contrast, distributed/rooftop system owners are preoccupied with other matters and don’t necessarily know the first thing about solar. This is made worse by the traditional distributed supply chain which involves a flow of individually branded components that flow through distributors, installers and then finally to the system owner. In most cases the risk and complexity flow down with the components and accumulate with a system owner who is ill-equipped to deal with them and often forgotten after installation.”

Best practises maximise return on investment.

One of our primary purposes at Autarco is to simultaneously remove that risk from both the system owner and the installers. We do this by remaining a stakeholder in the systems performance:

  • Being accountable for the quality and performance of our products.
  • Providing the necessary tools to our Partners to ensure the system design, install and financial modelling is done to the highest standard with the highest ease.
  • Providing intelligent operations (monitoring, alerting and diagnosis) and asset management (reporting) software to our Partners to enable them to easily provide maintenance services (or outsource if preferred).
  • Insuring the risk of lower irradiance and product defects

“You can’t guarantee long term performance of the best products in the world without taking long term care of them.”

Dan Horan – CFO Autarco

In partnership with our dealers.

We have complete confidence in the quality of our products, we know our partners do a great job on install and design, the final piece is to make sure long term operations and maintenance is done to the same high standards. As Horan states “You can’t guarantee long term performance of the best products in the world without taking long term care of them”. Together with our Dealers we can provide the same level of security and profitability that utility asset owners demand to our rooftop customers. Of course, if Dealers only want to install we can arrange another O&M provider to take over this responsibility.

If you are a solar installer who wants a full service end-to-end hardware and software solution that improves your bottom line, while offering your customers the best proposition in the market please get in touch with us today.

Want to offer real value?Become an Authorized Dealer.

Join us today! As an Autarco partner you also benefit from attractive services and extensive marketing support.

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Zero-waste expedition to the South pole.

Autarco is powering the Solar Voyager vehicle in the cleanest expedition ever, Clean2Antarctica. Dutch explorer Edwin ter Velde is planning to complete the worlds first ever energy neutral and zero-waste expidition to the South Pole.

Read more about his mission here

The last unspoiled continent.

The South Pole is located on the Antarctic. This is the last untouched continent of the world. The Antarctic is not owned by anyone. Luckily the Antarctic Convention is in place. Military missions should not be carried out, no raw materials should be mined and nobody should leave waste behind. How swell is that! That is what the whole world needs. And that is possible, if we collaborate genuinely. We, at Autarco, want to be part of this journey, to help our next generation.

Why is there the need to go to the Antarctic, the cleanest continent in the world? With this clean expedition, it will draw attention to the Antarctic Convention, which is to be extended in 2048 so that’ the thermostat of the world’ is preserved for future generations.

A clean earth and a climate that ensures that the earth is and remains more live-able for the next generations to come. That is why it is necessary to deal with mother nature more sensibly. Nature is cyclical and change is the only constant. And needs to STOP! We need to stop burning raw materials as once they disappear, they never come back as a raw material, never ever again.

A vehicle made from waste.

The Clean2Autartica team wants to drive up and down 2300km to the South Pole with a 100% Autarco solar-powered vehicle, autonomously without outside help. The car is built from waste material like plastic in co-creation, with individuals, government, business and youngsters who use their ideas and creativity to shape the future! It will prove that it is possible to build a car with combined knowledge, purely on solar energy and through clean technology. This first solar expedition team is therefore determined to be the cleanest expedition ever! No waste, no emission! You have to follow your dreams, dare to simply do it. We, Autarco, strongly believe in this philosophy and therefore support this expedition wholeheartedly.

Autarco named in top 3 innovative businesses

Anne-Marie Rakhorst is a successful entrepreneur and a much sought-after speaker on sustainability. In the program Booming Brabant she pronounces her personal top 3 of most innovative Brabant companies, including Autarco because of the ‘real demand-driven solution they offer’.