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Atikokan power station fires biomass

Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) in Canada is now operating on biomass, making it the largest power plant in North America fuelled by 100% biomass.

OPG's president and CEO, Tom Mitchell, comments: 'Close to 100% of the electricity OPG producers is from sources that are virtually free of emissions that cause smog or contribute to climate change. Atikokan GS is a unique addition to our clean energy portfolio as it provides dispatchable, renewable energy that can be used when the power system needs it.'

The coal-to-biomass conversion project got underway in mid-2012 and included ground preparation works and the construction of two biomass storage silos, each 44m tall and 21m in diameter. Each silo can store up to 5,000 tonnes of wood pellets. Modifications to the boiler and a new distributed controls system were also required, in addition to the construction of new truck receiving and transfer infrastructure.

The plant will receive a total of 90,000 tonnes of wood pellets annually. Under two fuel supply contracts, 45,000 tonnes will be supplied by Rentech, while the other 45,000 tonnes will come from Resolute Forest Products Canada. In a statement OPG explains that two suppliers 'enhance reliability of supply'.

'The conversion of Atikokan will ensure a clean, reliable, sustainable and local supply of electricity for the region,' comments Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy.

Pellets are received from self-unloading, rear discharge trucks. A new receiving system transports the pellets to the storage silos via conveyor belt and a bucket elevator. When needed for production, the pellets are delivered to the plant on a first-in, first-out basis from the silos via new conveyor belts and a second bucket elevator. Once inside the powerhouse, the pellets are pulverised and fed into the boiler, much the same way as coal was previously. Due to the similar heat content of lignite coal and wood pellets, the Atikokan boiler design was an ideal candidate for fuel conversion. All 15 burners were replaced with Doosan Mark IV biomass burners. New ash transport systems have also been installed.

Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan, adds: 'Ontario is a leader in green energy production and technology. The conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station is a great example of innovative new opportunities available in northern Ontario.

'The biomass conversion and solutions developed for the Atikokan GS are cutting edge and
OPG is at the forefront of this innovative technology. The project is the first of its kind in
Ontario and will bring economic benefits to north western Ontario for years to come.' Mitchell concludes.





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