The Ontario government has announced plans to convert its last coal-fired electricity generating plant to an advanced biomass fuel. This will put the government on target to achieve its goal of eliminating coal-fired generation before the end of 2014.
The Thunder Bay Generating Station (TBGS), which is operated by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), is said to be the first advanced biomass station in the world that was formerly a coal plant. It will have a five-year contract to generate electricity. The modifications to the plant will begin in 2014, and it is expected to be operational in 2015.
Advanced biomass is a renewable fuel derived from forest or agricultural sources that has similar characteristics to coal. It has better transportation, storage, and combustion characteristics than traditional biomass.
According to the Ontario government press release, advanced biomass emissions contain about 75% less nitrogen oxide than coal emissions and virtually no sulphur dioxide.
In September 2013, Ontario Power Generation conducted a successful test burn using 100% advanced biomass, which was the first of its kind in the world.
Over the coming months OPG will be developing detailed plans so that the conversion can move forward. Completion is targeted for January 2015.
OPG has another coal-to-biomass conversion underway at the Atikokan generating station. It will use biomass fuel in the form of wood pellets.