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The Voice of Canada’s growing pellet sector
fa24f9745ef1d31206ce1973dbde487b XLIt all began with the Ontario government’s mandate to end the use of coal power generation in the province by the end of 2014.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) had two stations operating in northwestern Ontario using coal for fuel: Atikokan and Thunder Bay. Atikokan would be the first to be converted to a new fuel source, making the transition to locally-sourced white pellets. And in transitioning the plant to biomass, the plant would become OPG’s newest thermal station.

 Supply contracts were issued for 90,000 tonnes of pellets annually, equally replacing the amount of energy created from the coal-fuel previously used on an annual basis. 

With the $170 million conversion of Atikokan underway, the focus shifted to OPG’s other northwestern Ontario peaking plant: Thunder Bay. 

Early 2013 marked the beginning of research into use of advanced biomass as a potential fuel source for the Thunder Bay generating station. Advanced biomass, essentially “cured” pellets, means heat treated biomass that allows it to be stored without investments in specialty covered facilities.

The conversion itself was a smaller scope than Atikokan, thanks in large part to the experience gained on that project, enabled by the properties of the fuel and the diligence of the project team.

 The cost of the conversion of the generating station from coal to advanced biomass was $5 million, a fraction of the $170 million cost for the Atikokan project. 

The completion of the project makes OPG Thunder Bay the first at-scale 100 per cent coal-to-advanced-biomass conversion in the world. The project provides a model for coal-based energy generation facilities around the globe that is cost-efficient, while also using a fuel that has the potential to be locally sourced in many parts of the world.

Read the full conversion story.

And for more case studies, click here.

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WPAC Safety Committee

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Power Generation


Sustainable power

The vast majority of Canadian wood pellets are made from sawmill residuals - sawdust. The rest are made from the residuals from harvesting operations for sawmills and pulp mills, or low-grade timber from forest industry harvest sites that has no other economic value. Think firewood. Read more...

Breathing easier - pellet emissions vs coal

Sustainability should be top of mind for any company that wants to stay in the game in today’s world.

As important a role as Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions play, we also need to focus on noxious emissions versus coal.


Industry News


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  • Critical report of Canadian logging practices are ‘misleading, flawed,’ say companies

    Criticism of Ontario’s and Quebec’s logging practices, made by the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), are misleading, say Resolute Forest Products, Domtar and Aditya Birla Group. NRDC’s report makes claims of overharvesting, leaving woodland caribou unprotected and not considering[…]


The Pellet Advantage

Efficient and Plentiful Production

Wood Pellet Association of Canada members are world leaders in the design and operation of modern pellet plants.


Innovating our way to a safer, better product

Wood pellets are a safe, reliable modern fuel. But they are still a fuel, requiring care in producing, shipping and storing.


Renewable and sustainable? Energy really can grow on trees.

There is no single energy source capable of solving our dependence on fossil fuels. Instead we need to look to a mix of new fuels, including wood pellets.


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