Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced Feb. 8 that its former coal-burning Thunder Bay Generating Station is officially fuelled on “advanced biomass.”
The fuel, also known as a black wood pellet, has similar handling and storage characteristics to coal. It’s made from lumber mill sawdust and is imported from Norway.
The OPG release said it contains 75 less nitrogen oxide than coal emissions and virtually no sulphur dioxide.
The cost of the conversion was $5 million.
Provincial Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said this new fuel technology makes Ontario “a leader” in building clean energy systems.
OPG president Tom Mitchell said utilizing “advanced biomass to generate renewable electricity is a new area of development for the electricity industry.”
Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro said the completion of the plant conversation provides “energy security” to northwestern Ontario, contributes to the tax base and provides opportunity for the forestry sector.
Sixty employees work at the plant.
The Atikokan Generating Station was converted from coal to burning a white wood pellet produced by Rentech in Atikokan and Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay.
Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said the plant conversion places his city “on the map as an innovative environmentally-friendly city.” The conversation, he added, with the associated research program, aligns with the city’s strategic priorities to develop a knowledge-based economy.