Solar Targets

Effective protection keeps thefts, vandalism at bay

Europe's large photovoltaic power stations represent significant investments and require effective protection against theft and vandalism. With the specific needs of this emerging market in mind, Geutebruck has teamed up with physical security specialist Haverkamp GmbH and system integrator Akera Security GmbH to supply customized, all-in-one PV power station security solutions.

Among the beige, brown and green landscape of Pozohondo and Valdecaballeros in Spain, shiny blue-black surfaces glint in the sunlight. These 150 SunCarrier panels, along with another 240 units near Alange, are soaking up the Spanish sunshine and producing 8,000 KW peaks. Protection and monitoring are essential to ensure that the installations remain intact and systems run smoothly.

Virtual Protection

Wire mesh fencing is sufficient as far as physical protection is concerned. The addition of a Haverkamp digital detection system turns a fence into an intrusion detector. If anyone attempts to climb over it, the intruder's position is immediately reported with an accuracy of plus or minus 3 meters. The alarm event triggers Geutebruck dome cameras to focus on the appropriate location and start recording. At the same time, the data is transmitted to a control center at a secret location. Optional sirens and flashing lights—triggered by contact with the fence—can provide an additional deterrent factor.

The disparate systems communicate with each other using highly reliable, tested interfaces. Where local land-based communication infrastructure is lacking, other options are used. For instance, in one of the Spanish projects, both the security and the power generation-related data are forwarded by satellite. Geutebruck, Haverkamp and Netzlink Informationstechnik GmbH have developed an interactive solution that enables the complete Geutebruck photovoltaic site security system to be operated via mobile wireless network. As a result, users can employ mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, to receive and manage alarms.

Proactive Security

An operator can control pan and tilt cameras, select camera pictures and conduct picture searches from any remote location. In fact, alarms can be assessed and processed anytime, anywhere. When security staff arrive at the site, they already have images of the people and locations requiring attention. For power stations in remote locations, this time-saving feature allows for significantly better security.

Given the high value of the solar panels, some sites are only insurable if they are equipped with suitable security systems and some insurers offer reduced premiums for sites with high-quality security solutions. For the photovoltaic power stations using Geutebruck systems, the premium reductions represent significant cost savings and a fast return on investment.

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Katharina Geutebruck is the managing director at Geutebruck GmbH.

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