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A First in Latin America: Hikvision Protected Solar Power

A revolutionary concept is taking shape in Argentina: solar power. More to the point, this is Latin America's – not only Argentina's – first solar plant. Generally, most would expect an integral plant such as this to be located in … or near … a major metropolitan area. For Argentina, Buenos Aires would be a logical choice. Instead, the city of Ullum – located in the San Juan province – is the genesis of this Argentinean revolution.

Control Close to Home

While Ullum may be a relatively far-off town in San Juan, it's still a very accessible site based on Hikvision technology: "We use three Hikvision products in this IP CCTV solution, but it is not a standard CCTV setup that is used for basic surveillance functions. Unlike a normal security-based CCTV system, ours is seamlessly integrated into the overall plant control. In essence, this system allows plant operators to perform normal management functions – such as remotely adjusting any of the 1000 solar panels that this facility houses based on changing sunlight patterns – or access security-camera footage … all on the same IP CCTV platform," explained Lic. Christian Uriel Solano, President of Security One Argentina (Hikvision's official Argentinean distributor for this project).

Solar technology demands certain accommodations, such as a location in the desert. Yet, when building a plant in the middle of the desert – located 100 kilometers from the nearest town – the importance of connectivity cannot be overstated. It quickly became apparent to engineers the most efficient manner in which to control both daily plant operations and security functions would be by remote control; as opposed to an extensive (and cost-prohibitive) onsite facility.

The first step was utilizing Argentina's already-existing multimode optical fiber and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks. "For this plant, approximately 80% of transmissions are completed through fiber optics and 20% through wireless," Mr. Solano noted.

But while this solved basic communication issues, the stakes were raised from a security standpoint. "Based on the unique set of challenges this plant represented, and the importance of this being Argentina's initial foray into the solar field, we really needed top-of-the-line security technology to ensure the success of this project. We needed Hikvision," Mr. Solano concisely summed up.

Hikvision's Lineup

Mr. Solano recognized the DVR used in this project would be critical. As such, Hikvision’s DS-9016HFI-S Embedded Hybrid DVR was chosen for technical flexibility. "The DS-9016HFI-S supports both standard resolution cameras and IP models with HD resolution. This is not a common feature among most DVR models; generally units are either standard resolution or IP – but not both," Mr. Solano explained.

Since the demands for this project dictated that the DVR units be located at the plant, the DS-9016HFI-S's hybrid functionality allowed the plant's various camera types to be utilized; as well as the ability to record onsite for back-up purposes. Additionally, the requirement that 20 days of video be stored dictated a large storage capacity. As such, the DS-9016HFI-S's up-to 8 SATA hard disk drives were critical to meet this goal.

Yet, transcending technical concerns, the issue of reliability was paramount. "We really wanted Hikvision because this brand is synonymous with quality, stability, and top-of-the-line technology. The DS-9016HFI-S brings an unmatched value balancing all of these … and most importantly, it brings the confidence that it will do the job. Now, we have no concerns that specific requirements, such as real-time viewing, will be anything but successful," Mr. Solano noted.

Additional features the DS-9016HFI-S provides are H.264 video compression, advanced motion detection, 3 independent local-video outputs (VGA, MAIN and AUX video/audio out), up to 32 users, an easy back-up to USB and CD/DVD-RW function, and dual-streaming.

But while these Hikvision DVRs are located indoors, thus protected from the desert's brutal conditions, many of the cameras are not so fortunate. Case in point is Hikvision's DS-2DF1-672 1.3 Megapixel Network Speed Dome – placed outdoors and used for both viewing security and plant operational functions.

As this camera has the dual function of both running and protecting the plant, a great deal of importance was placed on crystal-clear HD imaging in real-time. The DS-2DF1-672 accomplished this with its 1.3 megapixel resolution; yet other environmental factors needed to be taken into consideration.

"The desert is a very difficult environment for a camera to operate in. Obviously, the DS-2DF1-672's IP66 weatherproofing standard is essential for both functioning and longevity requirements. But compounding these weather conditions was the installation location, and job requirements, we expected from this cameras," Mr. Solano noted.

Specifically, these cameras were placed upon high-altitude poles in order to take advantage of the DS-2DF1-672’s 360° endless pan range, and -5° and -90° tile range, as well as ±0.1° preset accuracy. This was critical for both security and control purposes, but also demanded a high-quality zoom function: "The zoom feature is very important for staff in the remote-control centers to accurately see pictures in real-time. Additionally, we need the ability to record highly-detailed HD images for future plant considerations. Thus, we wanted Hikvision technology in a top-of-the-line megapixel model," Mr. Solano explained. 

The final Hikvision ingredient to round out this solution is the DS-2CD863PF-E 1.3 Megapixel Network Camera. Placed both indoors and outdoors, this camera is tasked with parameter security, entrance/exit surveillance, and internal surveillance needs within the plant itself – such as machinery rooms and employee rooms.

Again, since both security and plant functions are directly tied to this camera's imaging, project engineers deemed high resolution a must. An up-to 1.3 megapixel resolution, 1/3" Sony progressive scan CCD, and HD 720p real time video technology fulfill this requirement. But since this camera was also used outdoors … and at night … a slightly different skill-set was necessary.

"This plant operates 24/7, so we need to be able to see what is happening at any given moment, regardless of time of day,” Mr. Solano explained. "The DS-2CD863PF-E's true day / night feature is very, very important for us. At night, we are able to see extremely sensitive and clear black/white pictures that offer us HD imaging and information," Mr. Solano continued.

Additionally, the DS-2CD863PF-E's H.264 /MPEG4 /MJPEG video compatibility provides additional compression options, as does PoE with powering choices.

Finally, as with both Hikvision's hybrid DVR and network speed dome, the issue of real-time, high-quality video was essential. But, for Argentina's first foray into the field of solar power, this is commonsense. The wise decision was made not to take any chances and instead use high-quality Hikvision technology that promises reliability.

"We also appreciate the help from SYS NOA, the system integrator for this project, they helped to utilize the solution and did a good job," added by Mr. Solano.