Using solar power to improve port security



Paul Longley, Product Engineer, Carmanah Technologies Corp., Victoria, BC, Canada


A confluence of developments in technology has created a perfect opportunity for solar-powered security systems to address both green initiatives and important ISPS Code-driven requirements for enhanced security at modern ports. Thanks to innovations in solar power technology, compact and efficient ‘solar engines’ can be combined with small, low-powered surveillance technology to create a powerful new addition to port security infrastructure.

The special security needs of ports

Every business faces security challenges, but the challenges facing seaports today are uniquely complex and ever-changing. Ports handle a broad set of responsibilities including the safeguarding of shipping containers and property; detection and prevention of cr ime, smuggling and illegal importation; safeguarding
lives; controlling human access and dealing with the new and unpredictable threat of terrorism.

Modern seaports are now front and centre in the war on terror, but the large size of most ports creates an extensive and sometimes indistinct perimeter that must be secured and monitored. As a result of the ISPS Code (International Ship and Port Security) requirements of July 2004, ports face persistent demands for better control of access and surveillance.

Where is solar security most effective?

The opportunities for solar secur ity are considerable: as a standalone instrument, a solar-powered security camera can now be installed anywhere it’s needed, regardless of location, ease of access, or proximity to a source of g r id power. Locations such as br idges, cranes, gantr ies, storage tanks, mechanical infrastructure, hazardous environments, and remote or rough terrain are just some of the sites that make strong candidates for a solar solution.

The many sdvantages of solar

Solar is a ‘green’ technology and brings with it an extensive list of soft and hard benefits.


As its sole power source, solar uses the abundant resource of free, renewable sunlight. Without a reliance on grid power, solar-powered solutions don’t contr ibute to greenhouse gases (GHG) and climate change. For organisations that support a commitment to the environment, the selection of green solar technology can illustrate an ongoing demonstration of that principle.

Demonstrated cost savings

Although the ISPS Code recommends security enhancements at modern ports, funding for the upgrades may be restricted or slow to materialise. The industry has generally accepted that to meet the two-pronged reality of tighter security with limited funds, a rollout of automated sensors is a necessary direction. An installation of solar-powered sensors offers considerable cost-saving advantages that can play a key role in addressing this financial challenge.

The first advantage is the elimination of typically large upfront construction charges associated with trenching, cabling or extensive wiring; the elimination of which also offers the benefit of easy, faster installation. The second advantage is the elimination of ongoing costs associated with grid power, no longer necessary because the system draws its energy entirely from the sun. With reduced installation and operating costs, a solar solution makes good financial sense.

Have sun, will travel

Green technology means freedom – the ability for solar security arrangements to be portable and responsive to changing circumstances. Freed from the need for a  power or data cable connection, solar-security equipment is easy to install, and when necessary, easy to move or reposition. The placement of solar security systems can be fine-tuned to optimise the visual field of video cameras, improve radio connectivity, eliminate blind spots, or adjust the illumination spread of LED lights without having to re-route AC power feeds. In locations where the optimal spot for surveillance may be impractical or impossible for a wired system due to a lack of grid access, the advantages of a versatile solar-powered system are clear.

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