Unfortunately, some people see solar farms and windfarms as a chance to steal, vandalise and make illegal profits. According to Wind Power Monthly, the average wind turbine contains over three tonnes of copper per megawatt – with a 1.5-megawatt turbine containing around £20,000 of copper cabling.
The current trading price for copper in 2019 is about £3,000 per tonne. So, it stands to reason that criminals may be interested in targeting windfarms. Because of the potential for high profits, those targeting windfarms often belong to sophisticated criminal networks. For example, back in 2014, a gang of French metal thieves looted 20 wind turbines in a coordinated effort that allowed them to pillage one tonne of metal in a single swoop.
When it comes to photovoltaic power systems, the usage of copper averages around four to five tonnes per megawatt – making them even more potentially lucrative to criminals than turbines. And, of course, it’s not just copper that thieves may be keen to take. Plant machinery, heavy generators and other assets may also be targeted – the loss of which can incur expensive replacement costs and cause a delay to operations.
As well as being targeted by criminals, windfarm and solar farm owners face another problem – their assets are often located in rural areas and are spread over a large area of land. This makes providing adequate protection difficult.
But, by following some simple strategies, windfarm and solar farm proprietors can boost their security and protect their assets. As a baseline, all windfarm and solar farm owners should implement the “Triple P” approach – Promote, Protect and Prevail.
Prevention trumps protection – it’s far better to deter potential thieves than apprehend or prosecute successful ones. By shouting about the security measures in place at your windfarm, you can make would-be criminals think twice. A cost-effective first-step is to place boards at all access points, which inform intruders in no uncertain terms that your premises are protected and that you are willing to prosecute trespassers and thieves. If you use mobile security guards, intruder alarms, or have CCTV deployed on site, make sure that your signage highlights this.
Large-scale windfarms will ideally have manned security guards on site. These will keep a close eye on your assets 24/7 and can act as an effective first response to any security threats. If you do not want a permanent security presence, mobile security guards will perform regular checks on your windfarm to ensure that any suspicious people hanging around are properly deterred and that any security breaches are appropriately dealt with. As well as acting as an effective deterrent, CCTV can help you prosecute thieves and locate any assets that are taken from the site in the case of theft.
With comprehensive security in place, your solar farm or windfarm will be a difficult target for thieves. By maintaining proper security measures, you will ensure that your property is not targeted by criminals now or in the future. In order to properly secure your assets, it’s important that you keep existing security solutions in place and that you update your security measures in line with any new threats. A good security provider will be able to keep your security policy up to date, compliant with existing and incoming legislation and, via high-quality consulting, maximally effective.
Churchill Security is a leading UK security company. We provide a comprehensive range of security services for businesses and organisations operating in the energy and natural resources space.