Last week news news broke that solar panels and inverters with an estimated value of nearly $550k had been stolen from a Gold Coast business in what was described as a ‘highly organised’ raid. This and several other incidents in Australia in particular, but also in the US and India, have generated a buzz in the media about a ‘black market’ for solar panels.
The thieves in the Gold Coast theft used a stolen truck to cart some 300 panels and inverters away from a property in Coomera. The scale of the theft is massive, and required the use of a forklift, according to an article in the Telegraph. The thieves have not yet been caught, nor the truck spotted. Police have warned customers of solar power installers to be careful of discounted panels.
An article on news.com.au, citing the Queensland incident, mentioned a number of ways that solar system owners might ensure the safety of their panels, which sit virtually unsecured on roofs. They are held down only by screws and mounting brackets, which can be removed with standard tools. One US company, Heliotex, has designed special locked fasteners to make panels more difficult to remove without an entry key. Solar panel insurance is also an option; they may be covered under a home contents insurance policy.
John Grimes, CEO of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES), was quoted in the article as saying, “Building security is very important. You have to treat your panels like your other property and make sure it is secure.”
He suggested that the recent media coverage of the thefts may not be as bad as it is being made out to be. “I have heard of panels going missing from schools but I don’t believe it is a widespread problem like we’ve see in some other countries.”
He issued a warning to thieves that nicking live panels could potentially be life-threatening. “These systems have live wires that can put out as much as 600V depending on the set-up, so it is extremely dangerous for people to attempt to steal the panels.”
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Sources and links:
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
Latest posts by James Martin II (see all)
- Sizing residential solar & battery systems: A quick guide - 19 November, 2019
- How much do solar panels cost in Townsville, Queensland? - 6 August, 2019
- Battery pricing, incentives & virtual power plants - 6 August, 2019