Biomass Supply Not Sufficient For Northern Winters

Thunder Bay OPG Generating Station

Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.
Minister Michael Gravelle and MPP Bill Mauro at OPG Enhanced Bio-Mass Announcement in November.

Cold Northern Winter Needs More Power for Heat

THUNDER BAY – Common Voice Northwest says that the planned enhanced bio-mass that Ontario says can be used to fire the Thunder Bay OPG Generating Station isn’t in sufficient supply to handle possible demand.

“As plans are underway to convert the Thunder Bay Generating Station to run using biomass, the Energy Task Force is expressing concerns that the current agreement with the Province of Ontario to purchase and burn 15,000 tonnes of biomass per year will be not be able to meet the demands of future cold winters in the northwest. Had the conversion happened this year, the Thunder Bay Generating Station would have already consumed the equivalent of all of the advanced biomass fuel that the Government of Ontario is allowing OPG to buy”, according to a statement issued by Common Voice Northwest.

Cold Winter Would Use Up Supply in Three Weeks

Iain Angus - Common Voice Northwest
Iain Angus – Common Voice Northwest

“If the Northwest were to experience the identical weather and other conditions in January of next year that we have been experiencing since January 6 of this year, the advanced biomass fuel would have been used up within 3 weeks,” said Energy Task Force Co-Chair, Iain Angus.  “This is exactly as we, NOMA and the City of Thunder Bay have warned.”

The Energy Task Force has been tracking the hourly production of the Generating Station and are reporting that the output to date is 30,XXX MWH[1]. That is consistent with the OPG projection that 15,000 tonnes of advanced biomass pellets would equate to between 25,000 and 30,000 MWH.

“It is interesting to note that the 25,000 target was met at noon on Jan 25 and only took an additional  28 hours to reach the higher target of 30,000″.

MPP Bill Mauro has repeatedly sought to have proponents of having all the power suggested to provide a more detailed scenario for what they are planning to power. Mauro is suggesting there is already sufficient capacity in the north.

The Energy Task Force renewed its call for the Ontario Government to increase the supply on hand:

“From the perspective of planning for severe cold spells at a minimum, the contract with the supplier should be changed from 5 years at 15,000 tonnes each year to a contract for 75,000 tonnes delivered to the Thunder Bay Generating Station prior to December 31, 2014.  Additional tonnage can be purchased as the onsite supply is utilized.  It would be preferable to maintain a constant supply of 75,000 tonnes on site.

This level of supply will ensure that in times of severe weather there will be sufficient stocks on hand to meet the needs of the region. Utilization of the fuel can be closely monitored and as stocks on hand are diminished decisions can be made regarding resupply on a timely manner.[2]

“Based on the Energy Task Force’s analysis and the current need for the Thunder Bay Generating Station if we do not have 75,000 tonnes of advanced biomass on hand during winters like this, the Northwest will be in deep trouble and the consequences will be felt widely across the region” concluded Co-Chair Iain Angus.

Bill Mauro Speaks at OPG Announcement


Energy for Northwestern Ontario by netnewsledger

Iain Angus on Power Supply Needs


Iain Angus Speaks at Ring of Fire Announcement… by netnewsledger


[1] As of Sunday, January 26 at   5 PM

[2]  Excerpt from a CVNW Energy Task Force document: Analysis of the Operating Capabilities of Thermal Generation Post Coal, November 25, 2013

Common Voice OPG Power Generation Spread Sheet

TBGS 2014 Production