Ontario Power Gen’s Thunder Bay plant back up with biomass as its new fuel

Ontario Power Generation said Feb. 9 that its Thunder Bay Generating Station (TBGS) is now in service following a conversion of the plant to burn biomass pellets instead of coal.

“Ontario is a leader in building a clean energy system, and the completion of the conversion to use advanced biomass at Thunder Bay is key to building a cleaner future for the people of our province,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. “Congratulations to OPG for their commitment to this initiative and recognizing the long-term benefits cleaner electricity generation will bring to the people of Ontario.”

“Converting to advanced biomass is a positive step forward for the Northern Ontario economy. It keeps jobs at the Thunder Bay Generating Station and shows that our community and the Province of Ontario are world leaders in generating sustainable energy,” said Michael Gravelle, MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North.

“Using advanced biomass to generate renewable electricity is a new area of development for the electricity industry,” said OPG President and CEO Tom Mitchell. “OPG is pleased to be at the forefront of this exciting new and innovative technology.”

Bringing theis refueled plant into service is the beginning of advanced biomass-fueled electricity in Ontario and North America. OPG noted that it is also supporting biomass research through its sponsorship of the OPG Bioenergy Learning Research Centre at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. Like OPG’s Atikokan Generating Station, the Thunder Bay plant has the flexibility to respond to changes in electricity demand and provide dispatchable power when it is most required, the utility noted.

Advanced biomass has similar handling and storage characteristics to coal. It contains about 75% less Nox than coal emissions and virtually no SO2. The advanced biomass pellets used at TBGS are made from lumber mill sawdust. This conversion is part of a now-completed program by OPG to get off of coal entirely for power generation.

The 306-MW Thunder Bay station is located in the City of Thunder Bay. First placed in service in 1963, it is the oldest of OPG’s five thermal electricity-generating stations. OPG stopped using coal as fuel in April 2014.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.