Turbine towers are targets for theft during the construction phase and at existing wind farms. Thieves scavenge wind-farm sites looking for copper and construction equipment. Understanding the threats and incorporating security measures can reduce theft and decrease losses for wind-farm developers and owners.
Most wind-farm theft occurs during a waiting period prior to installation. Copper in wire is a high-profit material. Prices increase as the copper market fluctuates and so does the number of thefts. One report tells of thieves breaking
into a tower through the access door, hooking chains to all the wiring, and yanking it out with a pick-up truck. Thieves also target construction equipment. That is why wind-farm protection starts prior to construction.
Theft prevention is all about layers of protection. The first layer is the lock. However, when a thief can penetrate the lock on the access door, he can quickly close the door behind him and do a lot of damage. Installing a high-quality lock that is more resistant to battery-operated tools, such as hydraulic cutters, can prevent these occurrences. A contractor will typically use a lower-quality lock for ease of access for employees during construction. With a higher-quality lock, contractors can still easily access the site, but now thieves can’t use off-the-shelf tools to cut the lock.
Another protection method against theft is to hire a security guard. Protecting your assets can require an after-hours guard, as well as a roving guard to case the wind farm, deter crime, and report incidents. At community wind farms, a neighborhood watch schedule can also be helpful.
Installing an alarm that can be monitored through the SCADA system adds another layer of protection. This provides 24/7 remote monitoring even while no one is physically present. Video cameras or cloud recording (which can block out animal activity) inside the turbine alerts the monitoring center that something is going on, allowing for quicker reaction times. Cameras don’t stop crime, but can record the incident and give owners something to react to and follow up on. Many cloud-technology platforms have apps for cell-phone monitoring. What’s more, an alarm that was installed at the beginning of a project can be added to the SCADA system once the wind farm is operational.
Installing theft prevention has to become part of a wind-farm’s routine business. Owners can work with the local police to understand the kind of theft present in the area. Insurance providers can suggest products and services to use for theft prevention. Travelers Insurance has a specialty-investigative group that works closely with police departments to help owners and developers set-up security measures, and recover stolen assets, such as copper wire and construction equipment. WPE
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