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Solar farms called to improve security

Farmers investing in solar energy farms are being called to take the security of their sites more seriously, with spates in solar panel theft a growing concern.

Malcolm O’Shea Barnes, senior operations manager at Farsight explains: “The current hot topic is about subsidies being cut for solar farms, but many still hastily installed panels to get ahead of these changes to feed in energy tariffs.

“Because speed of installation has been a necessity for many farmers looking to use their land for solar panels, security has often taken a back seat. As a result, thieves are taking advantage.”

In the first quarter of 2015, NFU Mutual reported that they had seen a sharp rise in solar equipment theft. Farmer’s Weekly also reported that a Lincolnshire grower had 192 solar panels stolen in June, with another in Derbyshire seeing 100 stolen in March. *

Here’s Farsight’s advice on how you can ensure your solar farm is secure:

  • Make security a priority when you start to plan you solar farm installation. Many solar farms experience theft before they are energised because security measures haven’t been in place from the word ‘go’. Complete a full risk assessment before the installation is started.
  • Remote CCTV monitoring is when an external remote monitoring station monitors activity at your site via CCTV systems. The remote monitoring station will immediately be alerted when unusual activity is detected at your solar farm. Operators at the remote monitoring station will then issue an audio announcement warning any intruders away, and go on to notify the relevant personnel and emergency services if necessary. In effect, this means activity at your solar farm is monitored 24/7 by security experts.
  • Ensure effective security lighting is in place to aid CCTV monitoring. Infrared lighting, which is barely visible to the naked eye, won’t cause light pollution but will be detected by CCTV cameras – allowing those monitoring the cameras to identify potential threats with ease.
  • Perimeter fencing should be top of your list as well. Make sure there are full perimeter security measures in place, which act as a physical barrier to potential thieves.
  • Don’t provide thieves with an easy entry to your site. Check that gates are not an easy access point for vehicles being used to remove the panels.
  • Make sure the installation of your solar farm is not rushed. Opt for unique fastenings that require specific tools to be undone.

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