Ontario, Canada is now home to North America’s largest power plant fueled completely by biomass.
The Atikokan Generating Station conversion is complete, and the station is now generating electricity and helping meet local power needs in northwestern Ontario, according to an announcement on Sept. 11
Atikokan Generating Station will provide renewable peaking power, and can be turned on when electricity demands are highest.
The plant, which employs 70 full-time workers, burned its last coal, two years ago, on Sept. 11, 2012.
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.
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.
"Close to 100% of the electricity OPG produces is from sources that are virtually free of climate change or smog causing emissions,” explained Tom Mitchell, CEO, Ontario Power Generation. “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.”
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.
“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,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy.
Replacing coal-fired electricity generation is the single largest climate change initiative being undertaken in North America and when fully eliminated will be equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road, according to the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure - Ontario, Canada.