According to recent data, there are approximately 70,000 wind turbines scattered across the U.S. that are generating clean, reliable energy for American consumers. The country’s wind power capacity totals 139 gigawatts, making wind power the fourth-largest source of electricity generation in the nation with enough output to light up 43 million American homes. However, the sprawling and remote nature of wind farms means that they are often targeted by criminals – both in the construction phase and once the farm is up and running. Thieves target wind farms looking for copper, construction equipment, and other valuable items. To protect critical infrastructure, it makes sense to put wind farm perimeter security measures in place. This will proactively prevent loss and damage to the facility while helping utilities deliver maximum profitability and ROI. With that being said, the need for critical infrastructure surveillance continues to grow.
The Benefits Of A Wind Farm Perimeter Assessment
The security of wind farms is essential to prevent damage, theft, and even vandalism. Unfortunately, wind farms are often the victims of vandalism or unwanted visitors. Activists, as well as burglars, often target these remote facilities, making security a necessity. Performing a wind farm perimeter assessment can help mitigate the following issues:
- Prevent theft, vandalism, and terrorist acts – physical barriers like fences act as the first line of defense to keep unauthorized persons off the premises.
- Prevent local service disruptions – disruptions in wind turbine operations mean that homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals would be unable to provide services for an undetermined length of time. Additionally, many emergency and police services would not be able to operate or respond to emergencies without power.
- Deter intruders from entering sensitive areas – ensuring that only authorized personnel enter restricted areas, including the base, tower, and nacelle of the wind turbine is critical. These areas contain sensitive equipment, which (if compromised) could shut down the turbine’s operation and cause damage.
- Protect valuable assets, reduce outages, and minimize lost revenue – once a wind farm is vandalized and equipment is damaged, its revenue is negatively impacted.
- Lower insurance premiums – most insurance companies will reduce rates for facilities that have a professional security system installed and/or hire a professional monitoring service after completing a risk assessment.
What Security Measures Should You Use On A Wind Farm?
Utility-scale wind farms face an increasing number of security risks. Criminals target wind farm sites for copper, electrical equipment, and valuable construction machinery. The fact that wind farm sites span large geographic areas means that criminals have plenty of opportunities to breach the facility’s perimeter. Securing your wind farm perimeter is necessary, but what security measures should you put in place to deter criminals, vandals, and other bad actors?
- Perimeter fencing – fencing acts as the first line of defense for the outer perimeter of your wind farm. It can act as a visual deterrent, as well as a physical one, and should be used in combination with other safety measures.
- Surveillance cameras – security cameras that can be integrated with existing OT systems and include video analytics are a critical first step to securing your wind farm perimeter.
- PIR sensors – passive infrared sensors are used to detect motion when changes in temperature are recorded. For example, if a person walks into range of a passive sensor, it will trigger an alarm or turn on a light. Most sensors can be programmed to monitor a specific heat signature, so that small animals or insects do not trigger false alarms.
- Audio intervention – adding audio intervention to your perimeter security solution warns intruders who breach the perimeter that they have been spotted. Depending on your security system, audio can be pre-recorded or an off-site security guard can communicate directly with the intruder via an audio speaker.
- Video analytics – this specialized software can distinguish between humans and animals, helping to reduce false alarms and saving money so live security guards are only deployed when necessary.
- Remote monitoring – integrating your perimeter protection system and surveillance cameras with 24/7 remote monitoring ensures that an off-site security team is available to respond to alarms and take appropriate action when one is triggered.
Advanced Technology As A Security Measure
Thanks to recent advances in technology, video surveillance systems have improved both in terms of optics and digital image recording. The equipment that is now available to wind farm operators and large-scale utility providers are capable of making clear recordings at night and during inclement weather, meaning that an animal wandering too close to the wind farm perimeter can be differentiated from a human intent on criminal behavior. This prevents numerous issues and can prevent criminal activity before it results in equipment damage and lost revenue.
For more information on video surveillance options for wind farms and other utilities, click here.