Canadian Biomass Magazine

Ontario to convert northern coal plant to biomass

July 19, 2012
By Ministry of Energy

July 19, 2012, Toronto, ON – The Ontario government is moving forward with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass, creating 200 construction jobs and helping to protect existing jobs at the plant.

The conversion is the first of its kind in the province. The project will create new economic opportunities for Ontario's forestry sector, which will provide the biomass fuel to the plant, located near Thunder Bay. Demand for biomass pellets from the plant is expected to create or support about 200 jobs. The converted plant will be able to deliver more than 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power and is expected to be complete in 2014.

"Our plan to transform our electricity system and ensure a sustainable clean energy program is working. Together we are building a clean energy system in Ontario that is spurring new investment, creating jobs and providing Ontarians with cleaner air, healthier communities and a brighter future, said Minister of Energy Chris Bentley.

The Atikokan Generating Station will become the first Ontario Power Generation-owned facility to be converted from coal to biomass. It will be one of the largest biomass-fired electricity generating facilities in the world.

Under the terms of the agreement to convert the station, the biomass must be sourced from Ontario's forests and processed in Ontario. The procurement will provide a new market for waste fibre and act as a catalyst for a larger biomass industry in Ontario. Wood pellets will be made primarily from unused and underutilized species, non-marketable wood, forest residue and sawmill residue.


"The conversion of Atikokan from dirty coal to biomass means we are reducing harmful emissions and building a modern, clean, reliable energy system. We'll keep energy jobs in the Town of Atikokan and create forestry jobs in northern Ontario while ensuring a cleaner, healthier Ontario for families and future generations,” said MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikoka Bill Mauro.

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