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IP cameras help plant operators keep solar power flowing
Firelight Infrastructure and Great Circle Solar use Axis cameras to protect and manage large solar farms.
“The Axis/UCIT Online Security solution has exceeded our expectations. We started out looking for a basic security package, but we ended up with a tool that allows us to improve our operations. This has actually turned into a project management tool, with security being the secondary consideration.“ Adam Reeds, Director, Firelight Infrastructure Partners.
Firelight Infrastructure Partners, a Canadian infrastructure fund with $300 million in capital to invest in renewable energy projects, works with Great Circle Solar Management Corporation to finance, own and operate solar plants in Ontario. Each plant inhabits 100 acres of open ground outside of smaller population centres. This seclusion necessitates a real-time security and monitoring system that operates around-the-clock, yet is still cost effective.
Firelight and Great Circle considered many options, including on-site security personnel, a ring of motion detectors and pan-tilt-zoom and/or infrared cameras. The best solution came from UCIT Online Security, an Axis partner twice named Axis Integrator of the Year in Canada. UCIT Online Security recommended a combination of thermal imaging and HDTV-quality PTZ and fixed network cameras. Existing analog cameras were migrated to the IP video system using Axis video encoders. This delivers three critical prerequisites: large coverage area, durability and reliability.
UCIT Online Security provides year-round monitoring. Staff have a clear view of the grounds if an alarm is triggered by in-camera analytics or motion sensors, and can contact law enforcement and warn intruders using loudspeakers and controllable lighting. So far, though, the systems’ greatest return on investment has been as a day-to-day management tool. Solar cells must be free of snow and dust to effectively convert sunlight to electricity, and Great Circle and Firelight personnel can monitor the condition of the panels remotely and in real time. Without the cameras, costly trips to these distant locations would be required.