A Rise in the Use of Solar
It is no doubt that solar power is the cheapest energy generating technology. It is currently available on the market for 60 countries across the world. In most of these countries, an investment in a solar installation would generate a 20% return. We are therefore starting to see an exponential uptake in solar installations across the board. Considering this, we expect panel theft to follow a similar trend. Solar panels are easily removed and plugged back into usage to generate free energy.
The Need for Anti-theft Solutions
Investors in solar installations often wrongfully place their full focus on energy generation alone. They fail to consider the importance of operations and maintenance services as well as anti-theft solutions. While the return on investment is important when making a financial decision, it is essential to also sustain and protect the investment. This is where anti-theft solutions come in to play.
Protect Your Investment
A significant amount of the 60 countries, where solar power is the cheapest energy generating solution, are located on the African continent. These African countries experience high solar irradiance levels and high utility charges. This makes solar installations an obvious attraction. On the other hand, these countries also have wide income gaps with a majority of the local population lacking access to power. The situation leads to a high risk for panel theft. It is in these regions that anti-theft solutions, alongside insurance policies, are an absolute must in order to protect the investment. Ideally, the investor in solar installations should include these additional costs in their payback calculations.
Remotely Monitored Notification Services & Other Options
There are a variety of anti-theft solutions. Some include robust mechanical fastening methods, on site security, access control, security camera installations, and remote alarms notification services. The owner of a solar installation should therefore research which anti-theft solution is the most appropriate for their particular installation. From our experience, remotely monitored notification services generally tend to be the most effective.
Let us take a closer look.
Costs to be incurred on mechanical fasteners and solar panel mountings, specifically designed to promote anti-theft, are more expensive and arguably less effective than other methods. There is, however, a large scope for improvement in cheaper anti-theft clamping design. Ultimately, if the motive to remove a solar panel is strong enough, the success in doing so is inevitable.
On site securities can be boosted but a risk of security employees and thieves, working in conjunction to get around access control and security camera measures, remains high.
Remote notification alarm services based on plastic fibre optic or microphonic detection technologies are cost effective as well as easy to install and maintain. Additional measures can be taken to install high pressure pepper spray units on installations in remote areas. Nozzles are strategically placed to gain maximum effect. The goal is evidently to provide the end user extended periods to respond to activated alarms and apprehend the thief before they manage to leave the site.
Considering the obvious need for it in Africa, we expect anti-theft solutions as a whole to become more financially viable for all to install.