22 Jul How to avoid theft of solar panels and copper wires
In recent years we are witnessing a boom in photovoltaic solar energy. The big drivers are private investors who set up photovoltaic parks to produce energy and sell it to electricity distribution companies. But in the heat of this boom, another more undesirable one is also taking place: the theft of material installed by hand from organized gangs that in a few hours can make great profits. In this article we are going to tell you how to avoid theft of solar panels and especially the long-awaited copper wires of the installation, which, above the value stolen in this material, also produce numerous damages with their consequent secondary expenses that can ruin your investment.
Theft of solar panels: a real problem for owners of solar farms
Photovoltaic parks are full of material very desirable for thieves. Solar panels, copper and investors are a claim, since in a few hours they can get a juicy booty that sells very well on the black market. In recent months, hundreds of megawatts of photovoltaic energy are being installed due to the great legal boost that is being given to this type of sustainable energy, and to the fact that Spain is a world power because of its climatology and for having a highly developed solar industry.
One of the big problems with these facilities is that they are difficult to monitor because they are located in remote areas and have a wide perimeter. There are many points through which thieves can enter.
Trust only in photovoltaic park security companies
The security of a photovoltaic park cannot be in the hands of any company. It is necessary to hire experts in photovoltaic security systems. Only these specialists have the human and material means to guarantee the security of a photovoltaic park.
It is necessary to have a comprehensive service that deals with the three fundamental aspects of this type of facility:
- Engineering. It is the crucial phase, in which the security system of our photovoltaic park is planned and designed.
- Instalation and maintenance. Proper installation and configuration of protective equipment is vital for the surveillance team to provide its service correctly. The same is true of the necessary subsequent maintenance service, which will prevent possible security breaches from malfunctioning equipment.
- Central reception of alarms. Once we have the security installation designed and installed, we will have eyes and ears in the photovoltaic park. Now you have to think about the brain that will deal with managing possible alarms. This function falls on a good alarm receiving center, which supervises the security of the park and that everything is correct.
How to protect your photovoltaic park
To properly monitor a photovoltaic park, and know how to avoid theft of solar panels and copper, we have to make a complex and powerful perimeter surveillance installation. It is necessary to watch kilometers of fences and several hectares of surface. In addition, we have to do active remote surveillance that is compatible with physical surveillance on site. Next, we describe what are the technologies that we will have to use to protect our solar garden.
CCTV connected to central analysis
By installing a closed circuit television (CCTV), equipped with the different cameras that are necessary (infrared, night vision, thermographic), we can monitor everything that happens in the park. These cameras may be supervised from the facilities themselves, in the security team’s control room, or remotely, from an alarm receiving center, which will have to analyze all the warning signals that reach them and organize the appropriate response. The cameras can also provide services to a mixed security system, with a physical presence on the premises and with the external support of an alarm receiving center.
Video surveillance is complemented by video analysis software that is used to classify if we are facing an intrusion or it is a false alarm.
It is necessary to have a security system at the entrances to the park, so that only authorized maintenance personnel can enter. To do this we will place barriers, doors and lathes with access through cards or biometric recognition systems, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.
The video surveillance and continuous monitoring of a photovoltaic park is supported by a communications network that links all the security systems (cameras and sensors) with the control and command centers. We will find equipment connected wirelessly with IP technology and with fiber optic connections, satellite or mobile phone antennas. Depending on the location of the park, we will have to choose one or more communication systems.
In some parks we can find different types of sensors on the perimeter that detect possible intrusions: vibration sensors, torsion sensors, fiber optic cable or microphone sensors. The sensors are evenly distributed throughout the fence, each covering one perimeter surface.
It is necessary to have an Alarm Receiving Central
Finally, we want to emphasize the importance of having a good alarm verification service. The alarm receiving center, or CRA, is vital to be able to close the circle of security in our park and know how to avoid theft of solar panels and copper. It is useless to have the best security design and the latest technology installed if later we do not have a specialized company that manages all the alarms.
In this case, we have the experience of Turkana, a company specialized in CRA that belongs to the Microsegur group. They have the most advanced experience and technology, such as alarm management and classification software to give an adequate response to all alerts. They also take care to check that the security equipment works correctly: that there are no cameras turned off, possible blind spots or security breaches.
The central monitoring station is also in charge of alerting the maintenance teams to immediately repair the damaged equipment. Another important function is having the ability to detect and classify false alarms, as many will occur in such large facilities due to weather, animal, or tree limb factors.
The security of a photovoltaic park is complex and needs the support of specialized companies that can cover the perfect circle of security: engineering, development (installation and maintenance) and alarm management (CRA).