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Solar farms: The next attack targets
Most solar farm projects are located in remote areas, where land is affordable and the sparse population provides easier acceptance, permitting and operation. Unfortunately, these remote locations are vulnerable to attacks of vandalism, theft and terrorism. Today, there is an alarming increase in the incidents of theft and damage to solar farms, which impacts the production of electric power.
Vandalism and theft
The criminal element is composed of separate individuals and organized groups. In 2009, they committed 17,494, 717 crimes against property, theft and burglary, according to the FBI.
Today’s criminals do not yet understand the value of individual solar components. The components are in remote locations, cover vast areas of land, are easily unbolted, unplugged and transported, and are highly valued for their ability to be resold and installed in other energy producing venues.
Once the criminal element discovers this new opportunity, we foresee a rush to exploit the inherent security weaknesses of solar farms. In fact, many solar farms do not even employ a perimeter fence surrounding their assets.
Another issue that is critical in the protection of a solar farm is that a few collectors stolen from an array can greatly affect the array’s overall performance. Large solar farms are composed of smaller sections or strings of collectors. These collectors are connected in series, so if one collector is missing, an entire section or array put out of service.
The real threat is coming: Terrorism
With each new solar farm that is christened, OPEC’s grasp Western society becomes weaker. Most petro-dictators are Islamic fundamentalists, bent on the destruction of the Western way of life. Not only are they involved in the Jihad war, but also in the economies that pay for this war.
In Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, the author states that the ability of petro-dictators to squash democratic society in their own nations, wage Jihad war on the West and keep their own people oppressed in poverty is a direct result of the demand -- and therefore the price -- of oil. Our continued oil purchases are strengthening the most intolerant, anti-modern, anti-Western, anti-women’s rights and anti-pluralistic strain of Islam. As the price of oil goes up, freedom goes down; as the price of oil goes down, the pace of freedom goes up. In addition, we are financing with our oil purchases their armies’ initiatives against us -- those of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
Lessen the demand -- through conservation, efficiency and massive renewable energy projects -- and you reduce the price of oil. Lower prices mean less revenue which weakens the petro-dictators’ power to continue along their current Jihad path.
Our country utilizes major security measures on nuclear plants, refineries, seaports, airlines, etc., but next-to-nothing is being done to protect solar farms. The next wave of jihad attacks will be directed at this very real threat to Islam -- the vehicle that will put them out of business -- the solar farm.
The current security solution is to provide small-facility security techniques to wide-area security problems. Typically, this solution is comprised of an unbalanced mix of technology and humans, involving many perimeter cameras and security guards watching monitors. At night or in poor visibility conditions, the guards must physically patrol the perimeter fencing. This is a very costly solution and relies heavily on human reliability, which often fails to perform at consistent levels.
The Solution: Active Sentry
What is it? The new remote Active Sentry Radar detection system provides a virtual fence and “umbrella” of protection, encompassing up to 7.5 square miles. This unique system replaces the need for multiple perimeter cameras and multiple security guards watching monitors or patrolling perimeters. More importantly, the system will detect objects up to 1.5 miles outside of the facility’s perimeter, and using rules-based analytics will geo-locate, evaluate a threat, track, record and alert security personnel. This occurs proactively, before the perpetrator has reached the perimeter fencing.
How it works? A VFR radar system is comprised of three components: (1) A VFR radar unit rotates at 1 cycle/sec and reaches out 2,500 meters. It is sensitive enough to detect a car at that range and will detect a human at 1,400 meters. Its radio frequency waves penetrate the environment and do not require light or thermal resonance to detect the object, (2) A Chase Camera locks on and tracks the object for threat determination and interrogation, (3) Cortex Software provides multi-sensor correlation.
The Advantage. The perpetrator is detected before the perimeter is breached. Operational costs decrease and profits increase. With constant surveillance provided by the Active Sentry Radar System, the solar farm is protected from intrusion, vandalism, theft or terrorism, and the financial stability of the ongoing electrical production is ensured.
Chuck Scifers handles business development for JETprotect Corp. He can be reached at: