Solar farms take a shine to VCA Technology

Seven solar farms in the UK have recently been equipped with VCA Technology Video Analytics in order to detect intruders who might be tempted to steal valuable copper cabling

Encoders with embedded VCA Technology Video Analytics software have been installed alongside conventional analogue security cameras that monitor the perimeter at each of the solar farms. The images captured by the cameras are constantly analysed by the software which generates an alarm the moment anyone enters a pre-defined detection zone.

The VCA Technology Video Analytics software has been configured to match the specific requirements of each of the seven sites with multiple overlapping detection lines and zones ensuring that only specific activity will create an alarm event. Direction of movement, for example, can be defined so that an alarm is only triggered when individuals move in a particular direction across a zone. The software is also able to distinguish between human beings and animals such as foxes that may stray onto a site, and a rapid 'learning time' of just two seconds means that images are detected and classified almost instantaneously.

The seven solar farms located in the South West of England and Wales, are operated by PS-Renewables which was established in 2012 with the objective of developing commercial renewable energy opportunities within the UK. Collectively, they are able to contribute over 9 megawatts of energy to the national grid and by the end of 2013, PS-Renewables’ rapidly expanding development programme should ensure that this will increase to a capacity of over 19 megawatts.

Following a tender process, the contract to install the video surveillance at each of the seven sites was awarded to Bristol and Madrid based system integrator MICROSEGUR. “It was obvious to us when we surveyed each of the sites that Video Analytics would need to be an essential component of the video surveillance solution,” said Manuel Marin, Manager of MICROSEGUR. “With each site surrounded by farmland, it was inevitable that a high number of false alarms could be generated by all types of animals and birds. Having successfully used VCA Technology software for other projects across Europe, we were confident that it could offer a very high detection rate, whilst negating the time consuming and irritating problem of false alarms.”

The number of cameras installed vary between 9 and 36 depending on the size and shape of each of the solar farms. Images are recorded locally for a number of days, but when an alarm is triggered the relevant video is immediately transmitted to a specialized remote monitoring station.