As the demand for renewable energy continues to expand, solar farms and wind farms have become vital contributors to the global energy movement—and areas like Upstate New York have become hot spots for farming renewable energy. These installations are key drivers of the state’s transition to a sustainable energy system.
Just like with other sources of energy, solar and wind farms require robust safety and security measures to protect valuable equipment and infrastructure. Fencing systems play a crucial role in safeguarding such installations by providing physical barriers against trespassing, theft, vandalism and potential hazards.
Here, we’re exploring the importance of fencing for alternative energy solutions like solar and wind farms, including the many advantages of these perimeter structures, the types of fencing most suitable for applications in Upstate New York and the considerations for ensuring strong, effective fencing design and implementation.
Benefits of Fencing for Solar Farms & Wind Farms
An inherent aspect of both solar farms and wind farms is their large-scale equipment, including solar panels and wind turbines. These assets require significant investments from energy companies and are typically located in remote or semi-remote areas, which renders them vulnerable to a host of security threats. Fencing serves as the first line of defense, supporting valuable benefits such as:
- Increased Security: Fencing systems for solar and wind farms act primarily as a physical barrier to unauthorized entry, trespassing and theft. They restrict access to critical infrastructure, reducing the risk of issues like equipment damage, vandalism and sabotage.
- Enhanced Safety: Solar farms and wind farms comprise large-scale machinery and electrical components, which can pose significant safety threats. By keeping people and animals away from potentially hazardous areas, fencing helps prevent accidents and injuries—maximizing the safety of both personnel within the facility and the general public.
- Minimized Liability: As installing proper fencing demonstrates a commitment to safety and security, it can help mitigate liability concerns for energy companies by reducing opportunities for accidents, injuries or unauthorized access. It’s important to ensure fencing meets regulatory requirements and adheres to industry standards.
- Respect for Wildlife: Protecting the perimeter of solar and wind farms is additionally integral to detering or excluding certain animals from entering the property and keeping them out of proximity to the electrical units. On some renewable energy farms in upstate New York, projects have actually implemented dual-use approaches that incorporate grazing livestock, which require “predator-proof perimeter fencing.”
Top Types of Solar or Wind Farm Perimeter Fencing
What type of perimeter fencing is optimal for securing a solar farm or wind farm in Upstate New York to garner the benefits listed above? Two of the most well equipped types of fencing systems for these renewable energy installations include chain link and welded wire.
Chain Link Fencing
Chain link fencing is a popular choice for solar and wind farms due to its affordability, versatility, weather resistance and ease of installation. This type of fencing consists of metal wires constructed of galvanized steel, interwoven to form a diamond-shaped pattern. A benefit of chain link fencing is that it maintains airflow and visibility. To support true anti-climb properties for reinforced security, it can be combined with options like welded wire mesh and topped with barbed or razor wire.
High-tensile wires are also being leveraged more and more, due to their similarly light and strong nature (as well as their capacity to minimize shadowing over solar panels). Locking fixed knots tie the vertical stay wires to the horizontal line wire, achieving maximum strength, integrity, stability and resistance to tampering. A zinc-aluminum or other type of coating on the fencing material can help protect against rust and corrosion, optimizing durability and longevity.
Welded Wire Fencing
Offering enhanced strength and durability, welded wire mesh fencing is designed with specific spacing to prevent climbing and resist penetration from standard hand tools. They are installed with a vertical or horizontal mesh alignment, and the material can be mounted onto existing chain link systems for added security.
The construction of welded wire fencing involves the joining of intersecting wires through a welding process, creating a grid-like pattern for a sturdy and rigid structure. The wires are typically made of galvanized steel, which is characterized by strength, durability and resistance to corrosion. This makes it effective in providing a physical barrier and deterring unauthorized access, while the mesh design offers visibility and airflow.
Rutkoski Fencing maintains a partnership for material installation with Guardiar, a leader in security for solar farms, featuring over 100 years of experience in perimeter protection. Their fences stand the test of time and come with a 10-year warranty.
Important Considerations for Fencing Implementation
Upstate New York’s favorable geographical features, such as vast open spaces and strong wind resources, make it an ideal region for the development of solar and wind energy projects. Implementing the right fencing to secure and protect these installations, however, requires a knowledgeable approach and careful consideration of factors such as:
- Security Requirements: It’s crucial to assess the specific security needs of the solar or wind farm, taking into account the value of the equipment and the level of security threats in the area. These elements help determine the appropriate height, strength and type of fencing required to ensure effectiveness.
- Perimeter Layout: Any irregularities in the landscape, such as sloping, should be taken into account when planning the fence installation.
- Access Points: It’s necessary to identify required points of access for personnel, vehicles and maintenance equipment. These access points should be properly worked into the fencing system design with gates and security protocols.
- Environmental Factors: Fencing must be designed and installed properly to withstand weather challenges, such as strong winds, heavy snowfall or extreme temperatures, without compromising its integrity.
- Compliance: Research on and compliance with local regulations, codes and requirements (including electrical and grounding parameters) for installing perimeter fencing on solar and wind farms is essential.
Given the importance of understanding these factors and applying effective design and product selection for solar farm and wind farm installations, it is imperative to partner with a trained and licensed fencing expert experienced in managing fencing projects for renewable energy sources.
Interested in learning about how Rutkoski Fencing can help with your solar or wind farm fencing project? Download our free brochure to find out more.