Surveillance cameras from FLIR Infrared Cameras & Thermal Imaging have helped Spanish security specialist Omega Seguridad secure several solar parks in Europe for their clients.

The Omega Group, based in Sevilla, Spain offers a comprehensive range of surveillance and security services, including the installation and maintenance of systems and equipment for intrusion and fire detection, CCTV and access control. One of the company’s main areas of expertise is perimeter protection of solar parks. 

Based on a proven track record for perimeter protection projects across Spain, Omega Seguridad has also been able to offer its expertise to solar park projects in various European countries including Portugal, France, Italy and Romania. The company encourages its customers to install thermal imaging cameras for perimeter protection and surveillance at their solar parks.

Omega Seguridad’s latest project was at a new solar park located in Sebis, Arad, Romania where they installed 22 thermal imaging cameras for perimeter surveillance. The largest in the country, and also one of the largest in Europe, the park has been developed by Bester Generación, a leader in the renewable energy market, specialising in the promotion, construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructures for the production of clean energy. 

The park stretches across 200 hectares and includes about 72,000 photovoltaic panels, amounting to 15 MW of power. The total perimeter, including two separate confined areas of approximately 2.1km, could be covered with a total number of 22 thermal imaging cameras, with a single camera on average covering approximately 190 metres.

For this particular project, Omega Seguridad relied on FLIR’s SR series of surveillance cameras, offering high quality thermal imaging in any night- or daytime environmental conditions. They mainly used the SR-313 camera with 35mm lens and 320 x 240 resolution, next to the SR-324 camera with 19mm lens and 320 x 240 resolution. FLIR’s SR series security cameras provide high contrast imagery optimised to get the most out of the video analytics software, which in this case, was provided by Spanish company Davantis. 

Omega Seguridad usually offers CCTV cameras and thermal imaging cameras for perimeter protection to its customers. Although traditional CCTV systems are ideal for security and surveillance applications, they are not effective in total darkness and have to be supported with additional lighting, which again allows only limited visibility. 

Antonio Millán Fernández, project manager at Omega Seguridad, explains his company always makes an extra effort to convince the customer to choose thermal imaging cameras since thermal cameras can see much farther than traditional CCTV cameras, requiring a lesser number of units. 

Though more expensive than a video camera, the investment cost for perimeter surveillance will still be lower, since fewer camera units are required, which also reduces investments for all camera-related equipment, helping customers achieve significant savings. Additionally, thermal imaging cameras do not need lighting equipment and will operate with the same accuracy night or day. Omega Seguridad also calculated that the overall power consumption of a project with traditional CCTV systems was about 50% higher than that with thermal cameras. 

Enrique Delgado Torres, engineer and project manager at Omega Seguridad explains that distances between 60 and 120 metres require two conventional cameras or one thermal camera with the cost of equipment involved on both systems being equivalent. However, for distances between 120 and 180 metres where three conventional cameras would be required, the equipment associated with the thermal system becomes more economical. 

According to Vicente Nanclares Ocio, director of the engineering department, the more bends and curves a perimeter has, the more camera positions one will need to have a sufficiently good view. Since solar parks generally tend to have straight shapes, this allows thermal cameras to see even farther than 180 metres.

The lower overall investment is not the only reason why Omega Seguridad prefers thermal imaging for the Sebis project in Romania. Thermal cameras also have higher accuracy and generate fewer false alarms, which ultimately reduces frustration and workload for the control room operator. Thermal cameras also allow better surveillance through fog.