Most of Europe's large photo voltaic power stations are a long way from anywhere. They represent significant investments and need effective protection if they are not to present easy targets for 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 customised, all-in-one PV power station security solutions. Two of these systems have gone into service in Spain in recent months.

The landscape around Pozohondo and Valdecaballeros in Spain is nothing special, but now amongst the dusty beiges, browns and greens, shiny blue-black surfaces glint in the sun. These 150 SunCarrier panels, along with another 240 units near Alange are soaking up the Spanish sunshine and producing a total of 8,000 kWp. Protection and monitoring are essential to ensure that the installations remain intact and systems run smoothly, so that this output is maintained.

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 intruder detector. If anyone attempts to climb over it, his position is immediately reported with an accuracy of plus or minus three metres.

The alarm event triggers Geutebruck dome cameras to focus on the appropriate location and start recording digital pictures for later identification of the intruder(s), while at the same time the data are also transmitted to a control center at a secret location. Optional sirens and flashing lights (also triggered by contact with the fence) can provide an additional deterrent factor, which is quite enough to drive away bored teenagers and those with casual intent.

Akera security GmbH is responsible for integrating the various different technical systems into a single high performance unit. The disparate systems communicate with each other using highly reliable, tried and 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. Netzlink Informationstechnik GmbH have developed an interactive solution, which enables the complete Geutebruck photo voltaic site security system to be operated via mobile wireless network. As a result, mobile devices such as a BlackBerry can be used to receive and to manage alarms. Security staff can view live pictures or site plans showing the alarm zone, assess the situation quickly and take immediate action.

Optional sirens and flashing lights (also triggered by contact with the fence) can provide an additional deterrent factor which is quite enough to drive away bored teenagers and those with casual intent

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 pictures of the people and locations requiring their attention. They can be ready to act quickly and efficiently. For power stations in remote locations this time saving means significantly better security.

Given the high value of the solar panels, it is hardly surprising that some sites are only insurable if they are equipped with suitable security systems; and that some insurers offer reduced premiums for sites with high quality solutions. For the photo voltaic power stations using Geutebruck systems, the premium reductions represent significant cost savings and a fast payback on the security equipment.

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