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Copper Cable Thefts Threaten Solar Power Industry in Japan

Main image to the post Copper Cable Thefts Threaten Solar Power Industry in Japan

Copper Cable Thefts Plague Solar Power Facilities in Japan

Thefts of copper transmission cables from solar power facilities are on the rise, particularly in the Kanto region of Japan. A survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun found that 5,300 cases were reported in Tokyo and six other prefectures in the Kanto area last year, a 350% increase from the previous year.

Thefts are particularly prevalent in the northern Kanto region, which has large fields suitable for solar power plants. Ibaraki Prefecture reported the highest number of thefts at 1,675, followed by Tochigi Prefecture at 1,132 and Gunma Prefecture at 1,108.

Thefts are believed to be driven by rising copper prices. JX Metals Corp., a leading manufacturer of non-ferrous metals, reported a nearly 100% increase in copper prices over the past five years.

The Natural Resources and Energy Agency is urging solar power operators to be cautious and is working with police to uncover the culprits. However, many solar power plants are unmanned and have few security measures, making them easy targets for thieves.

One company in Ibaraki Prefecture experienced six thefts in six months, resulting in losses of approximately ¥5.5 million. The company has since implemented security measures, including sensors that issue alerts when people are detected.

The increase in thefts is also affecting the nonlife insurance industry, which is seeing a surge in insurance claims for theft-related damage. Some companies are considering raising premiums to offset the increased payouts.

To deter thefts, local governments in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures are considering revising or enacting ordinances to prevent the sale of stolen copper cables. The ordinances would require buyers to keep sellers' identification papers and transaction records.

The rise in copper cable thefts is a serious problem that could hinder the spread of solar power generation in Japan. Increased security measures, tighter controls on the purchase of metals, and collaboration between law enforcement, solar power operators, and insurance companies are crucial to address this issue.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09