Renewable, carbon-neutral biomass in the form of wood wastes, agricultural residues and purpose grown crops is widely used in European countries to produce electricity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, generate jobs and improve energy security.
- Independent analyses show that Ontario has substantial renewable resources of forest and farm sourced biomass that could be used in repurposed, recycled coal stations along with natural gas to produce dispatchable (generation that can be turned on or off) peak electricity.
- According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s 2013 Long-Term Reliability Assessment, the forecast contribution from wind generators in Ontario is assumed to be 14 percent of its installed capacity at summer peak and 33 percent at winter peak. Ontario’s solar capacity value is forecast to be 30 percent to 34 percent of its installed capacity at the summer peak and between 0 to 4 percent for the winter peak. On average, the assumed contribution for biomass generation is about 95 percent of installed capacity.
- The conversion of Ontario Power Generation’s Atikokan Generating Station from coal to 100 percent biomass is already well underway and will produce 200 megawatts of renewable, dispatchable (generation that can be turned on or off), carbon-neutral electricity.
- On November 18, 2013 the government announced that Ontario Power Generation (OPG) had received a five-year contract for the Thunder Bay Generating Station to generate electricity using an advanced biomass technology. Modifications to the plant will begin in 2014 with operations expected to commence in 2015.
- Using these renewable carbon-neutral renewable biomass resources would reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions by displacing carbon-emitting natural gas production.
- Independent research shows that forest and farm-sourced biomass can be sustainably provided to produce electricity in accordance with international standards.
- Repurposing these stations to utilize renewable, carbon-neutral biomass along with natural gas would provide reliable, lower greenhouse gas emission electricity when needed for peak demand.
- Converting these stations to biomass and natural gas would recycle valuable generation assets already owned and paid for by the people of Ontario.
- Existing transmission infrastructure that connects these stations to the provincial network also owned and paid for by the people of Ontario would be recycled.
- Repurposing these stations would cost billions of dollars less than constructing new gas-fired generating plants.
- Some form of carbon pricing, as we have seen in British Columbia and Alberta, would make biomass conversion even more financially attractive.
- These stations are already located in supportive host communities, the value of which has been heightened by the needless and costly cancellations and relocations of natural gas stations planned for Mississauga and Oakville.
- Investments in biomass fuel supply chain infrastructure would create about 3,500 jobs and contribute about $600 million annually to Ontario’s economy (Pembina Institute, April 2011). These jobs would be created in the bio-fuel, forestry, agriculture and transportation sectors
- These investments would benefit Ontario’s emerging high-value bio-economy.
- Using domestically-sourced biomass would improve Ontario’s energy security by reducing the use of imported natural gas for electricity generation.