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Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Biomass Energy Program

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Biomass Energy Program

Ministry of Energy

Biomass is plant material from agricultural and forestry sources that can be used to produce energy. It can take the form of harvested plant material or by-products of agricultural and forestry operations like wood chips, grain milling spoils and crop stubble. It is often formed into pellets.

Biomass is globally recognized as a renewable source of energy. Unlike oil, gas, or coal, which emit carbon absorbed from the environment thousands of years ago, there is no additional carbon released from the combustion of biomass - it emits the same carbon that it absorbed just a few months or years ago. It is a renewable fuel source because once harvested, the plant material is replanted to ensure sustainability.

OPG will take a responsible approach to biomass fuel supply by requiring contracts for biomass come from sources that meet the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change definition of renewable. OPG will not generate electricity from food crops or any material defined as waste under Ontario's environmental regulations.

OPG is assessing the feasibility of converting some of its coal-fired units to burn biomass with an initial focus to convert Atikokan Generating Station in 2012. Engineering studies are underway. Contracts for the sustainable supply of fuel, fuel transportation and plant modifications will be secured as the project progresses.

Test burns have been conducted at all of OPG's coal plants. While results have been encouraging there is a lot of work ahead before biomass can be considered for commercial operation. OPG must complete studies on the impact of biomass on plant equipment and the required plant modifications. Sustainable fuel supplies must also be developed. The contribution of many groups including government, forestry, agriculture, business, academia and communities will be needed for successful conversion to biomass.

Development of biomass as a fuel offers a new market opportunity for Ontario's agriculture and forestry industries and communities. The use of biomass at OPG's coal plants not only provides Ontario with more renewable energy it also means these plants can be used after coal is phased out in the years ahead.

Most of the electricity produced by OPG comes from nuclear and renewable water power sources that produce virtually no greenhouse gases. Biomass will contribute to OPG's transition to an even lower emission generator.

Amy Tang, Minister's Office, 416-327-6747
OPG Media Relations, 416-592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008



Environment and Energy