Do solar farms really need protecting from thieves?


Many people are surprised to hear that theft from solar farms is a growing problem in the UK’s countryside. Theft from farms in general is a well-known threat but it’s usually vehicles or equipment that are high in value and easy to move.

But even a couple of years ago the theft of solar panels from remote farms had attracted the attention of Radio 4’s Farming Today. The 2015 programme quoted government figures from 2013 showing that solar equipment theft was sharply rising, although still a small proportion of the £44.5 million lost to the UK economy through rural crime overall.

Remote locations

Fast-forward to 2017 and the number of solar farms has increased dramatically, helped by government subsidies and growing public awareness, with many new farms being community projects.

But planners often ensure that solar farms are as invisible as possible to nearby communities, masked from plain sight by the landscape, trees and hedges. This, coupled with the fact that most are remote, on land that’s out of the way and difficult to use for any other farming purpose, makes solar farms easy prey for thieves.

Vehicles can, therefore, be parked up unnoticed while solar panels and associated equipment are uncoupled and loaded. Often the first sign of theft is that monitoring equipment shows a loss of power generation and by the time people arrive on site the thieves are long gone.

Perimeter security for solar farms

The remoteness of solar farms and their growing attraction to criminals makes perimeter security a valuable investment. Harper Chalice is a specialist manufacturer of perimeter security including Perimeter Intrusion Detection systems and Intruder Detection which offer cost-effective solutions to securing solar farms and other remote, rural installations.

Harper Chalice equipment is being installed at a growing number of solar farms, including a 10.5km long perimeter fence protected by our FenceSecure perimeter intrusion detection (PID) system. The fence detects attempts to cut it or climb over it and the PIDs interact with a CCTV system for alarm monitoring and response.

If you need to protect a solar farm that’s planned, or already producing power, take a look at the different perimeter intrusion detection solutions on our website.