OPG starts construction on Atikokan biomass conversion

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) said Oct. 12 that it has started construction work on converting its Atikokan coal plant to biomass.

The estimated C$170m Atikokan conversion project includes plant modifications and the construction of a fuel storage and handling system to repower the plant from coal to biomass fuel. Biomass will be the only fuel used at Atikokan in the future, OPG President and CEO Tom Mitchell said in a news release.

All of OPG’s thermal plants will cease using coal by the end of 2014.

The converted Atikokan station will have an installed capacity of more than 200 MW. When the conversion project is finished in 2014, Atikokan should be the largest capacity 100% biomass power plant in North America, OPG said.

The converted plant will generate renewable, on demand, peak capacity power, and create about 200 construction jobs. The revamped power plant will be able to handle up to 90,000 metric tons of biomass fuel annually, OPG has said.

AeCON has been selected for design and construction of the fuel handling and storage systems and Doosan for the combustion modifications, OPG said in July.

Mitchell said the biomass conversion is part of OPG’s effort to modernize its thermal, hydro and nuclear generation portfolio.

“We are committed to safely completing this project on time and on budget,” Mitchell said of Atikokan. “To help us meet this goal, there has been a tremendous amount of upfront planning.”

The town of Atikokan is located in northwestern Ontario. Until recently, it had one 211-MW coal unit that used low-sulfur lignite.

As of June 30, OPG had 19,051 MW of in-service generating capacity, including two nuclear stations.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.