As more farmers diversify and host solar farms across the south west, they are being reminded that security from theft is vital.

Given their remote location, solar panel systems on farms are particularly vulnerable to theft due to low foot traffic and neighbouring video surveillance systems, making them easy targets for criminals.

The south west region of England, particularly Cornwall, has become a hub for renewal energy production thanks to its ideal latitude for solar power. With 18,076 solar sites in Cornwall alone and some 123,802 renewal energy sites across the south west, it's no surprise that this region leads the UK in renewable energy production.

As more and more farmers turn to solar power as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, it's essential that they address the issue of solar panel security on farms, says Rachael Oakley, head of crime intelligence at DeterTech.

With the increased reliance on solar power comes an increased risk of theft, making it crucial for farmers to protect their investments and ensure the continued success of their renewable energy efforts.

Farmers can identify high-risk times and locations by paying attention to advisories issued by the police and local media reports.

Rachael recommends a five-strand methodology for protecting perimeters.

She says: "To combat the threat of solar panel thefts, a multi-layered approach to security is essential. This approach should fall in line with the traditional 5 D’s methodology of perimeter protection: Deter, Detect, Deny, Delay and Defend."

Physical barriers can be an excellent deterrent, Rachael says: "One effective way to protect solar panels from theft and vandalism is by installing physical barriers that make it difficult for thieves to remove panels from the site. Strong physical barriers can discourage trespassing and vandalism and make it harder for criminals to scope out a site.

"Given that farms are large, sprawling operations that require constant maintenance and upkeep, access control systems play a critical role in managing who is permitted to enter more sensitive areas of the premises. By gaining greater control and visibility over the flow of authorised personnel, operators can physically secure their perimeter without impeding day-to-day activities."

READ NEXT: Green light for building one of Cornwall's biggest solar farms

Rachael advises that ways to detect crime are vital: "To combat the threat of solar panel thefts, it is essential for solar farms in remote locations to implement robust crime detection. This includes the installation of surveillance cameras, lighting, and physical barriers, as well as having a security team on site or on call to respond to any incidents. These measures can help to deter criminals and protect farms from costly damage.

"Whatever the measures put in place, they should be clearly communicated through prominent signage inside and outside of the location. A significant proportion of their value is in acting as a deterrent that discourages criminals from targeting a specific site in the first place. These signs should be placed clearly and prominently in strategic locations to deter thieves who are unlikely to try their luck against units with both low lighting capabilities and vocal warning systems."

Given the ongoing energy crisis and increased pressure from environmental groups to adopt sustainable energy, solar panel adoption is expected to continue increasing across the UK.

As such, solar panel theft prevention is set to remain a significant and expensive problem for UK farms.

Rachael concludes that it is therefore essential that sites adopt a bespoke, comprehensive and layered security strategy, combining various deterrent technologies adapted for their environment.

She says: "By predicting, deterring and detecting solar crime, farmers can maintain energy costs and reduce fossil fuel reliance while minimising the impact of intrusions."

On February 28, DeterTech and Schroders Greencoat is convening a meeting of police, industry and solar operators in Telford, focused on solar crime trends and how to tackle them. For more information visit