Print this page

After the sun goes down

Written by 
Published in Features

FLIR thermal imaging cameras chosen to light up perimeter surveillance at Spanish solar plant

Solarpack is a multinational integrated management company focusing on electricity generation projects in the field of solar photovoltaic energy and is specialised in the development, financing, construction, operation and management of these projects. Controlling a large area where high valuable equipment is deployed all over the site is not an easy task, and it usually requires investing a great amount of money to keep the facility well protectedAt one of the most important solar plants in the west of Spain, Solarpack is now protecting its 41-acre perimeter with an intelligent analytics solution produced by Valencia-based company CCTV CNTER, which combines FLIR thermal imaging cameras and Aimetis Symphony powerful analytics software.

Business challenge

Solarpack is continuously investigating new security solutions to find a pragmatic security system to protect its installations while taking into account the complexity of a solar plant. In this project, the challengewas reducing investment costs and maintenance costs, as well as improving the security system so it would provide a more effective and reliable solution, offering automatic notification of alerts and events. Quick search and review of video images was also an essential requirement. A number of tests made with other security systems lead Solarpack to determine that thermal imaging cameras were the best solution, and in particular FLIR’s thermal imaging cameras. It was then when Solar Pack contacted CCTV CENTER, FLIR’s official distributor and integrator in Spain.

Solution

CCTV CENTER presented a solution combining FLIR thermal imaging cameras and Aimetis Symphony analytics software. Aimetis Symphony is award-winning intelligent video surveillance software that offers a single, innovative, open IP video platform for video management, video analytics, system integration and alarm management.

The superior quality images from the FLIR thermal imaging cameras, together with Aimetis Symphony analytics, provided a great solution for the whole system. The end user had had previous experience in projects with thermal imaging cameras, and good image quality was always a main requirement. Due to the high contrast of their images, thermal imaging cameras are highly recommended for analytics and perimeter applications. Thermal imagingcameras can detect a human target at a distance of up to 2,000m and produce clear and crisp images in total darkness, light fog and rain where color CCTV cameras can’t. Thermal imaging cameras provide an ideal solution for 24/7 surveillance, saving costs in IR illuminators or any other additional illumination system.

Installation

For the perimeter protection of this solar plant, 21 FLIR F-Series thermal imaging cameras with a resolution of 320x240 pixels were installed on two-to-three metre high poles, alongside a wired fence. The F-series are fully enabled for  control and operation over digital and analog networks. The -Series provide high-contrast imagery optimised to get the most out of video analytics software. Digital Detail Enhancement ensures clear, properly contrasted thermal images in all weather conditions.

The thermal imaging cameras work alongside an intruder detection system, both connected to a central station alarm (CSA). All the thermal imaging cameras are integrated with Aimetis Symphony software so they can be controlled from a server PC placed at a remote workstation.“Integrating the FLIR F-Series cameras with Aimetis software was a great solution”, said Pablo Campos, CCTV CENTER’s project head. “We used FLIR thermal imaging cameras before with Aimetis Symphony, and the FLIR F-Series are included in the list of compatible devices. Once calibrated, analytics performance is outstanding.”

Target detection

Aimetis Symphony software is configured with a virtual fence, so when an intruder crosses the virtual line, determined by the operator, an alarm is triggered. The alarm is then sent to the CSA where the operator receives the signal. The operator then connects with the Aimetis Symphony client and checks the video stream associated to verify if it is a false alarm or a real threat. The system can make distinction between humans and animals. When the system identifies the target as human, it will start tracking the target. The software doesn’t trigger any alarm unless the target crosses the virtual line configured by the operator. When the system identifies a target as an animal or unknown object, it will not send an alarm at all, even when an animal crosses the virtualfence. This is because “animals” are considered to be authorised intruders in the system. The high quality of the thermal imaging cameras and the reliability of the analytics makes it possible to make this distinction, resulting in a drastically drop in the number of false alarms.

Cost savings

Before the new installation, between ten and 15 security guards were hired to protect the premises. Now there are no security guards patrolling or controlling the access to the solar park, as everything can be managed from a remote workstation by only one or two operators. “The new installation is saving a lot of money and is far more effective than having a team of security guards viewing daylight cameras that can’t display images at night or in bad weather conditions,” said Pablo Campos. “Furthermore, the use of thermal imaging technology saves the cost of deploying and keeping an illuminating system running. Also not a lot of electricity is consumed using thermal imaging cameras instead of other solutions, and maintenance costs are low as well.”

FLIR F-series: Thermal imaging cameras for security and surveillance applications

F-Series thermal security cameras let you see intruders and other threats to your facility clearly in total darkness and in bad weather. Fully enabled for control and operation over digital and analogue networks, F-Series thermal imaging cameras are available in 160x120 pixels, 320x240 pixels and high-resolution 640x480 pixels formats, providing up to 16 times the image clarity and longer threat detection range performance compared to lower resolution cameras. Human targets can also be tracked and will trigger the alarm when crossing the virtual fence. Animals are considered to be authorised intruders and will not trigger the alarm.

For more information about thermal imaging cameras or about this application, please visit: www.flir.com