Wow, I had no idea solar theft was such a problem. According to a KQED Public Radio, over the past year over 400 solar panels, worth $1,000 each, have been stolen from vineyards throughout Napa County, California. That’s pretty amazing given solar photovoltaics don’t even have that high of a penetration rate yet.
That statistic also suggests that the problem may only get worse as more and more organizations, companies and people install solar panels on roofs, at schools and next to vineyards. It sounds like the ground-mounted systems were the big target in the Napa County thefts, so I wouldn’t start worrying about your bolted-down rooftop panels just yet. But for all you entrepreneurs out there, solar security maybe be a hot topic of 2010.
The KQED report interviewed a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based startup called Gridlock Solar Security, which is a little over a year old and sells a $1,000 alarm system solar security device. The system will make eight phone calls in 10 seconds to warn of a potential theft, and blare a 120 decibel alarm system. Seems like they’re doing well, telling KQED that they’ve been generating 36 orders a month from a national distributor, and working with school districts and wineries.
Another interesting tidbit from the KQED report is that police in Napa County speculated that thieves may be finding solar panels using online tools like Google Earth (s GOOG). We’ve followed quite a few companies that map publicly available solar info onto Google Maps. When it comes to online data, unfortunately security concerns are just the price of doing business in the world of transparent and free information. Listen to the KQED clip below:
Image courtesy of Grid Lock Solar Security.