SunMine can power 185 homes. That’s not so bad!

185 homes may look low to some but not so when taking into account the following facts:

  • It is in the same order of magnitude than the average BC Hydro generation.
  • It is better than some other hydro power projects.
  • The energy consumption per household in BC is one of the highest in the world.
How is that number calculated?

The 1.05 MW SunMine solar plant will produce in average 1,945 Mwh per MW installed per year. (with  95% exceedance probability).  The average household electricity consumption in BC is 11 MWh per year (BC Hydro data). The plant will therefore produce enough electricity for at least 1,945 * 1.05 / 11 = 185 homes.

How does it compare to traditional power generation?

BC Hydro had 12,000 GW generating capacity in 2013 (BC Hydro Quick Facts) and generated between 43,000 and 56,000 GWh/yr. It means that 1 MW of generating capacity in BC is enough to power 325 to 424 households.

While a solar plant like 1 MW at SunMine can power less homes, it is also much cheaper to build than a new hydro dam. For example, the estimated construction costs of Site C is  8 B$ for 1.1 GW or $7.2/W. SunMine is $5/W for the pilot stage and its extension would cost much less (from $2 to $2.5/Wp).  Furthermore, a solar plant on a old remediated industrial site creates no environmental impact nor public concern.

The energy capacity factor of SunMine is lower than BC Hydro average, albeit in the same order of magnitude. On the other hand, a solar farm is cheaper to build and easier to implement than a new large hydro dam.

The “number of homes per MW” is better known under the form of energy capacity factor calculated as the amount of MWh per year produced per MW installed divided by the number of hours per year (8,760)

SunMine has an energy capacity factor of 23%, the same as the Hoover dam on the Colorado.
The 714 M$ – 1,000 MW upgrade of BC Hydro’s Mica dam (Mica 5 & 6 project) will “generate enough to power 80,000 homes”, that is  80 homes per MW or an energy capacity factor of 10%

In comparison, SunMine has an excellent performance.



BC residential electricity consumption  is one of the highest in the world. It is twice that in Japan and thrice that in Germany, countries with similar economies but better energy conservation habits.
SunMine could power 400 homes in Japan or 600 German ‘haus’ but only 185 homes in BC.


SunMine could power many more homes with a better energy conservation program