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Thieves Are Looting Germany's Solar Farms

Solar energy production was 100 times greater in 2014 than in 2000 — and that's giving thieves ample opportunity to pilfer solar panels.

by VICE News
Jun 10 2015, 5:03pm

Photo by Uli Deck/EPA

Germany's market for solar power has become so lucrative that crooks are stealing solar panels and cashing them in for thousands of dollars, according to a report by the Financial Times.

In the state of Brandenberg, thieves walked off with more than $567,000 worth of solar equipment in the first four months of this year alone, said the FT. Last year, more than 3,000 panels were stolen, adding up to more than $805,000 worth of losses.

"Solar theft continues to increase, despite the measures taken to prevent it," Frank Fiedler, chief executive of solar product trading site SecondSol, told the FT. "Thieves are able to escape with thousands of euros worth of equipment, which they consider a profitable night's work."

Last year, photovoltaic solar panels accounted for more than 7 percent of Germany's energy production, according to a new report by SolarPower Europe.

"For the first time ever in Europe, renewables produced more power than nuclear," said the report. "Solar power was a key in reaching this remarkable achievement."

The trade group says solar capacity worldwide in 2014 was 100 times greater than what it was in 2000 — and that could make solar thieves very happy. 

Related: The future of America's solar industry could be very bright