THEFT PREVENTION: PFALZSOLAR INSTALLS INNOVATIVE SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS IN SOLAR PARKS

Ludwigshafen , 06.11.17
Schutz vor Moduldiebstah in Solarparks mittels Kameraüberwachung
Unfortunately, theft of solar panels is not a rarity anymore. For most thieves, a fence does not necessarily mean a barrier. As most large scale solar parks are far away from villages or streets, they are perfect targets for thieves who want to make fast money. That’s why more and more solar power plant operators are currently thinking about intelligent surveillance systems.
One reason for the increasing number of solar module thefts is that some of the modules that have been installed during the last ten years aren’t available anymore, for example due to the several insolvencies of manufacturers. But the demand for those modules is causing a market for organized crime: Thieves don’t steal solar modules from randomly selected solar parks – they rather break into strategically selected parks, well prepared with useful tools and vans for the transportation of the stolen goods. The unpleasant consequence for power plant operators: A loss of earnings, a high administrative effort and, of course, the difficult procurement of substitute solar modules.
To prevent such thefts, a surveillance system may be useful – especially where solar parks are easily accessible for thieves. “Of course, operators have to weigh up the risk and economic factors before investing in such a system,” says Thomas Kercher, CEO of PFALZSOLAR. “This is not absolutely necessary for every site. But there are definitely solar parks with a higher risk for solar module thefts, where a surveillance system will pay off in the long-term. When we plan new PV projects we always have a very close look at the site conditions and decide together with the investor if for example a camera surveillance is required or not.”
More and more solar power plant operators are currently thinking about installing a new surveillance system to protect their investment. PFALZSOLAR recently equipped a solar park of the “Südeifel Strom e.G.”, an energy cooperative located in Dudeldorf (Rhineland Palatinate), with such a system. Ten day- and night cameras make it now possible to oversee the whole solar park 24/7. Intelligent camera software detects persons that enter the terrain without permission and alerts the control center whose staff immediately reacts according to a clearly defined intervention plan. Mario Brüders, CEO of the energy cooperative, is satisfied with the results: “Due to its geographic position, our solar park was permanently at risk of becoming the target of thieves. Now we feel well prepared for an attempted theft, although we really hope that the cameras have a sufficient deterrent effect.”
A protection through a camera surveillance and intelligent software is, by the way, only one of several possibilities to keep thieves away. PFALZSOLAR, a 100% subsidiary of a German energy provider, has been operating PV power plants of any size for nearly 15 years now. The company was faced with the need of theft prevention in many national and international projects. “As an O&M provider we’re responsible for a power plant portfolio of more than 170 MW. Some of our customers are currently thinking about investing in a new surveillance system. We assume that the advising and realization of individual systems will become more and more important for our O&M Business,” underlines Thomas Kercher. “But it is of course always the best solution to have a security concept that fits the needs of an individual location before a solar park is out into operation. That’s why the perfect surveillance system should already be planned in an early project phase.”