Ontario continues coal phase-out with biomass

By Anna Simet | July 20, 2012

The Ontario government announced it is moving forward with plans to convert its Atikokan Generating Station to biomass, which will be one of the largest biomass power plants in the world when complete.

It will also become the first plant conversion in Ontario since the government mandated all coal plants shut down or phase out the use of coal by 2014, a law that was passed in 2007.

Located near the town of Atikokan in northwestern Ontario, AGS hosts one coal-fuelled generating unit that produces up to 211 MW of electricity using low-sulfur lignite coal. Post-conversion, it will produce about 200 MW from wood pellets sourced from Ontario’s forests and processed in the province—a conversion requirement— in order to provide a new market for waste fiber, underutilized species, and nonmarketable and sawmill residues.

The plant currently employs about 90 people, and an additional 200 will be created through the conversion process.

The Ontario Power Authority has already been directed by the Minister of Energy to negotiate a power purchase agreement. Details of plant’s conversion released by the Ontario government indicated that conversion of the plant will begin later this year, and is expected to be complete in 2014.