Power Workers’ Union concerned about OPG closures
By Canadian Biomass
Sep. 9, 2009, Toronto - The Ontario government has announced that it will close two of the eight 500-MW coal-fuelled units at Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Nanticoke Generating Station on Lake Erie and two of the four 500-MW coal units at OPG's Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia.
By Canadian Biomass
Sep. 9, 2009, Toronto – The Ontario government has announced that it will
close two of the eight 500-MW coal-fuelled units at Ontario Power
Generation's (OPG) Nanticoke Generating Station on Lake Erie and two of the
four 500-MW coal units at OPG's Lambton Generating Station near Sarnia.
"These plants have been providing Ontario with reliable, safe, and
affordable electricity for decades," says Don MacKinnon, president of the Power Workers' Union (PWU). "Ontario has decided to close these plants in
favour of building more natural gas plants and increasing imports of
electricity from coal plants in the United States. We are very concerned that closing
Ontario's coal stations will negatively impact energy security, reliability,
and the price of electricity, as well as the price of natural gas for home
The Power Workers' Union has been working with industry stakeholders to
create a "made in Ontario" alternative using biomass pellets
made from wood and agricultural waste to fuel and/or co-fuel these
generators. Biomass is the most widely used source of renewable electricity
generation in Europe. Biomass-fuelled electricity production, unlike wind and solar, is
available on demand.
For countries like Canada, with huge biomass resources, there are additional benefits. The production of fuel from biomass can strengthen Ontario's
troubled forest and agricultural industries. First Nations could be valued
participants in the supply chain.
According to Tom Adams, industry watchdog, "To maintain reliability in
the event of a rapid drop in wind, grid operators need generators able to
quickly take up the slack. Coal power emits greenhouse gases at a much lower
rate rather than Ontario's new mid-efficiency gas-fired generating units while
providing essential reliability support for wind generation during high wind periods. Ontario's coal power stations are good at riding along at low power,
often at 20% of full power, ready to quickly ramp up to full power when
needed. However, our new gas plants have much higher minimum production
requirements, typically about 60% of full power. To match the upward
generation flexibility of one large coal generator, about twice as much
gas-fired generation capacity is required, and four times as much carbon
dioxide is emitted from the gas generators standing by to support wind power
compared with coal generators doing the same job. For a 500-MW coal generator
at 20% power or 100 MW, the carbon dioxide emission rate is typically about 100 t/h
while providing 400 MW of up ramp potential. To get the same 400 MW of up ramp
potential, about 1000 MW of gas combined-cycle units are required, putting out
600 MW and emitting at a rate of approximately 400 t/hr."
MacKinnon added, "At this time, we do not know the extent of the impact on
the hundreds of employees at the two locations. It will take some time to work
out all the details with OPG before we can fully assess the effect on our
members and the economies of the host communities. We find this frustrating,
to say the least. We need better solutions that will strengthen Ontario's
energy security and economy while truly addressing climate change. Closing
these valuable facilities to become more reliant on more expensive natural gas
and imported coal power from the United States is not the answer."