Ontario power plant converts from coal to biomass power

The Atikokan Generating Station in Ontario, Canada conversion is complete and the station is now generating electricity from biomass and helping meet local power needs in northwestern Ontario.

The Atikokan biomass power plant, which employs 70 full-time workers, 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 reduction in harmful emissions, cleaner air and a healthier environment, according to project officials.

The biomass used to fuel Atikokan Generating Station is being harvested and processed in Ontario. Domestic suppliers have leveraged this opportunity to secure contracts to provide pellets to international buyers.

Atikokan Generating Station will provide renewable peaking power, and can be turned on when electricity demands are highest.

OPG has contracts in place with two companies in northwestern Ontario to supply the wood pellets. Rentech Inc. and Resolute Forest Products Canada will each supply 45,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually.

The closure of Ontario's coal plants comes as the province moves toward implementing a smarter electricity grid, increasing efficiencies within the electricity system, introducing strong conservation efforts and committing to cleaner energy sources.

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