German NTV public radio reports that solar systems are being hampered by yet another problem: Mafia plundering German solar systems. It’s turning out to be a huge problem, and NTV writes that the solar industry is keeping very quiet about it in order avoid negative publicity. NTV describes how thieves equipped with just a few simple tools are able to strip panels and the expensive power inverters rapidly under the cover of night. Hardest hit are systems installed outdoors in fields – solar parks. NTV describes the night-time theft of one solar installation where the thieves simply used bolt cutters to gain access through a fence to a field with thousands of panels: “They removed almost 200 modules, most likely loading them in one or several small cargo transporters, and disappeared.” The operation took probably less than 2 hours and the loss estimated at 42,000 euros. The thieves appear to be highly organized and the activity involves a black market network that extends to Italy, North Africa and Eastern Europe. NTV writes it sometimes takes days before the solar system operator realizes part of the system has been stolen, noticing that electric output isn’t what is used to be. By then the thieves are long gone and the trail is cold. Security systems around the perimeter or GPS chips on each module are expensive, and so park operators are hesitant to install them because it takes already years before they start to see a return on their investment. NTV writes that operators are often afraid to inform the insurance companies of smaller thefts for fear of being forced to procure expensive security systems or else have their policies cancelled. NTV writes that damages from solar module theft in Germany runs in the tens of millions of euros annually. The problem is now so big that the German police has set up a special commission aimed at fighting back the solar criminals. Of course this further adds more costs for citizens who are already massively burdened by the high green electricity costs. The following German video from Bavarian BR Television shows how easy it is to steal modules in a matter of minutes, and reports on how one solar farm operator lost 200 panels valued at 40,000 euros. NTV writes that because of a lack of transparency, the Italian mafia is now in the business of running solar parks equipped with stolen components. “For this reason solar parks in Italy are being used to launder money.”
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By P Gosselin on 25. July 2015