British Columbia Hydro International Limited was formed in 1988 to provide expertise to energy companies worldwide. After a financial scandal involving NDP and BC Hydro insiders, BCHIL became inactive. Were the consulting company operating today, BCHIL could be advising utilities that inexpensive wind power projects have serious drawbacks.
Unlike Site C in British Columbia, wind projects have relatively low budgets and short construction timelines. Those factors impede privatization of public wealth. While good for consumers of electricity, low-cost generating facilities offer only short-term benefits to those who build them.
An example is the Yanco Delta Wind Farm, 300 km west of Canberra Australia. Virya Energy Pty Ltd, the Australian arm of German renewables outfit Energiequelle, announced the project in 2021. Virya says environmental assessments will be complete in 2022 and it expects final approval in 2023. First electricity will be delivered in late 2024 or 2025.
The construction period of two years for Yanco Delta Wind pales in comparison to the 11 years required to build BC’s new Peace River dam. According to Virya Energy’s project overview:
The proposed wind farm will include approximately 210 turbines, a battery energy storage system, solar panels and associated electrical infrastructure.
The Yanco Delta Wind Farm is expected to generate about 1.5 gigawatts of sustainable baseload energy to help the NSW government transition towards lean and renewable sources of energy.
It is expected that once the Project is approved, construction will begin in late 2024/2025, and the wind farm will be operational after 2025.
The budget for Yanco Delta Wind Farm is between C$1.8 billion and C$2.7 billion. Using the mid-point, that indicates a capital cost of C$2.5 million per megawatt. Although the BC government has not provided a budget update for almost two years, Site C will cost at least 7x that amount.
According to its developer, the Yanco wind project would include construction, operation and decommissioning of the following key components:
- Up to 225 wind turbine generators with a total generating capacity of approximately 1,500 MW,
- A 500MW/500MWh Battery Energy Storage System,
- Temporary and permanent ancillary infrastructure.