Cable Thefts on the Rise, Potentially Slowing Bess Investments at Solar Farms

October 17, 2023|Renewables

This summer, copper thefts soared globally, most notably dealing a $200 million loss to Aurubis, a Germany-based copper producer. Metal thefts are also rising in Japan, where the number of such incidents in 2022 doubled over 2020’s levels, and will reach a record high this year.

In Gunma Prefecture, copper thefts increased six-fold from last year, and the figures are doubling and tripling in other prefectures. Half of the thefts occur at solar operators, which are now forced to divert some of their budget earmarked for battery energy storage systems (BESS) to facility repairs and security improvement.

Confounding the situation is the fact that the culprits are rarely caught, and so they act with a feeling of impunity. Even if high copper prices subside, thieves would most likely target other items from solar farms that can be recycled and resold.

If this situation is allowed to fester any further, it has the potential to become a national economic and even international security issue. As states add protectionist moves in the name of securing essential minerals, markets could fragment and prices elevate, triggering even more thefts of metals in general and not just copper.

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