Solar farms have long been a target for criminals, due to the value of their component parts and the remote locations they typically occupy.
For both new sites and existing solar farms, the issue of security is a key consideration. Whether it’s reducing the risk of theft, trespass or damage, site security should form a vital part of any operations and maintenance contract.
New solar developments
The number of solar farms being built in the UK has soared in the past 10 years, a trend that has been driven by several factors; the global shift towards green energy; the falling cost of the technology; and Feed in Tariff (FiTs) subsidies, which were introduced by the government to encourage its take up.
While FiTs payments may now have come to an end, new developments continue to come online and the UK’s large-scale ground-mount solar pipeline for 2019 was reported to consist of almost 200 projects with a combined capacity of 3.3GW.
As the number of solar farms continues to increase, so too does the threat of theft and other criminal activity. Solar panels, inverters and copper cables all remain popular targets, not to mention vehicles and construction site equipment being used during a solar farm’s construction.
Reducing the risk of crime
For investors, ensuring the maximum return on investment is achieved from any renewable development remains a top priority. That means taking every step necessary to maintain performance and optimise the yield of the solar installation.
Having a comprehensive operations and maintenance contract in place that is delivered by an experienced team and thinking about site security, is therefore crucial. This not only reduces the risk of loss or damage to assets, but helps to avoid any potential drop in performance that such incidents may result in.
It may also influence insurance premiums, with insurers increasingly specifying the scope of security measures that must be in place.
Top 5 solar farm security measures
While no security system is impenetrable, the aim of onsite security measures should be to reduce the potential risk and stop a would-be criminal in their tracks.
Such measures need to be fit for purpose, fully tested and regularly reviewed. Like an insurance policy, you hope you will never need them, but if you do, then they need to be in full working order and doing their job well.
Here is a run through of some of the most popular security measures being used by UK solar farms today:
Perimeter fencing makes accessing and exiting a site far more difficult. This reduces the risk of trespassing and having criminals drive on site to move out equipment. Requirements in relation to landscape management plans will influence the type of fencing that can be used.
The presence of professional security guards on site at a solar farm can act as a strong deterrent and is particularly effective during the construction phase. A full time security detail, working alongside the developer to manage secure access points and guarding the site out of hours, can help to ensure that entry to the site is strictly controlled.
Intruder alarms and perimeter beams can be positioned to detect the presence of people and vehicles on site, while working in such a way so as to allow wildlife such as rabbits and birds to access the site without setting off the alarm.
Monitored infrared CCTV systems are one of the most popular security technologies around. For any solar farm, the positioning of the cameras is key. They need to be placed in such a way that means they cannot easily be tampered with and any blind spots need to be considered.
Mobile patrols and alarm response
Mobile patrols work by having a security officer make an agreed number of visits to the site, at random times throughout the night. This can be a strong deterrent, while limiting the time criminals have available to cause damage or steal assets.
Solar farm operations and maintenance
At Anesco, we have been designing, building and maintaining solar farms for almost a decade. Our comprehensive operations and maintenance (O&M) service provides complete peace of mind that the greatest benefit is being achieved for our customers, from their renewables investments. For more information, please call us on 0845 894 44 44.
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