A power plant in Aitkokan, Ontario will undergo a conversion over the next two years that will change the facility’s focus from coal to biomass.
The conversion project for the Atikokan Generating Station, located about 200km northwest of Thunder Bay, will begin later this year and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2014. Upon completion, it will provide more than 200 megawatts of energy to the provincial power grid.
The plant will use wood pellets made primarily from unused and underutilized species, non-marketable wood, forest residue and sawmill residue as the dominant sources of energy.
“The conversion of Atikokan from dirty coal to biomass means we are reducing harmful emissions and building a modern, clean, reliable energy system,” said Bill Mauro, MPP,Thunder Bay-Atikokan. “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.”
According to a report by CBC, the $200 million conversion will create 200 construction jobs and sustain existing jobs at the plant.
The Atikokan plant is owned by Ontario Power Generation Inc., and will be the first of their mills to undergo the conversion that officials say will be “one of the largest biomass-fired electricity generating facilities in the world.”
The conversion plan has been in the works for quite some time – nearly six years, according to the CBC. Negotiations had been underway for the last two years and were firmed up on July 19.