North America’s largest 100-percent biomass-fuelled power plant opens in Ontario
Ontario, Canada is now home to North America’s largest power plant fuelled completely by biomass. As of September 11, the Atikokan Generating Station conversion is complete and the station is now generating electricity and helping meet local power needs in northwestern Ontario.
Atikokan Generating Station, operated by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), employs 70 full-time workers, and burned its last coal two years ago, on Sept. 11, 2012. Conversion of the station began in mid-2012 and included construction of two silos and boiler modifications to accommodate the biomass. The project employed over 200 highly skilled trades people and technical workers. A coal-free energy mix will lead to a significant reduction in harmful emissions, cleaner air and a healthier environment.
The biomass used to fuel Atikokan Generating Station is being harvested and processed in Ontario, and domestic suppliers have leveraged this opportunity to secure contracts to provide pellets to international buyers. According to OPG, the material being used is a mix of un-merchantable residual hardwood (birch/poplar) and sawmill residue, as well as other forestry residuals that are sustainably sourced. Local suppliers, Rentech Inc. and Resolute Forest Products Canada were each awarded contracts for the supply of 45,000 tonnes per year of biomass wood pellets for operations at the Atikokan Generating Station.
“Close to 100 per cent of the electricity OPG produces is from sources that are virtually free of climate change or smog causing emissions. Atikokan GS is a unique addition to our clean energy portfolio as it provides dispatchable renewable energy that can be used when the power system needs it,” said Tom Mitchell, President and CEO, Ontario Power Generation.
Added Bob Chiarelli, Ontario's Minister of Energy; “A new era has dawned in Ontario; one where the air will be cleaner and the multiple costs of coal-fired generation have become a distant memory. Atikokan’s successful conversion to biomass will put Ontario on the world map as a leader in using this sustainable fuel source for electricity production.”