Thunder Bay Generating Station

Last updated
Thunder Bay Generating Station
The Thunder Bay Generating Station
Location Thunder Bay, Ontario
Coordinates 48°21′36″N89°13′12″W / 48.36000°N 89.22000°W / 48.36000; -89.22000 Coordinates: 48°21′36″N89°13′12″W / 48.36000°N 89.22000°W / 48.36000; -89.22000
Commission date 1963 (coal)
2015 (biomass)
Decommission date2018
Owner(s) Ontario Power Generation
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Advanced biomass
Turbine technology Steam turbine

The Thunder Bay Generating Station ("Thunder Bay GS") is a biomass-fired power station owned by Ontario Power Generation ("OPG"). It is located on Mission Island in Thunder Bay, on the shore of Lake Superior. [1]


Operating since 1963, Thunder Bay GS was the last coal fired station in Ontario. The plant was shut down in April 2014 as part of Ontario's phase out of coal-fired electricity generation. [2] [3] It was converted to run on advanced biomass (wood pellets) and recommissioned on February 9, 2015. [2]

Historic operations

Thunder Bay GS began operation in 1963, with one 100 MW coal-fuelled generating unit. Two additional coal-fuelled units were added in the early 1980s, and in 1984 the original 100 MW unit was removed from service. This plant is connected to the power grid via 115 KV and 230 KV transmission lines. The station occupies 53 ha (131 acres) on Mission Island, at the mouth of the Kaministiquia River delta on Thunder Bay. The plant's chimney is 198 m (650 ft) tall. [4]

The two coal-fuelled boilers provided a peak output of 326 MW fuelled by low-sulphur lignite coal from the Ravenscrag Formation in Southern Saskatchewan [5] and low-sulphur sub-bituminous coal from the Powder River Basin in the United States. [4]

While operating as a coal plant, annual production was approximately 1.5 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh), enough energy to supply over 100,000 households for one year.

Conversion from coal

There were multiple announcements on the future of Thunder Bay GS over a 10-year period. The Ontario government initially proposed a conversion to natural gas in 2004 but subsequently cancelled that plan in 2006. [6]

Then, as part of the 2010 Long-Term Energy Plan, Ontario's Ministry of Energy announced that Thunder Bay GS would be converted from coal to natural gas by the end of 2014. This was part of the Ontario government's commitment to phase out all of its coal-burning power generation. [7]

On 1 November 2012, OPG announced that the Ontario Power Authority requested that the conversion to natural gas be suspended until the Ontario Power Authority could assess generating needs in northwestern Ontario. [8] The next announcement on the generating station's fate was made in November 2013 when the Ministry of Energy announced that Thunder Bay GS would be converted to advanced biomass. [2]

Ontario’s Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli outlined the broad terms of the conversion in a directive to the Ontario Power Authority dated 16 December 2013. [9] Chiarelli noted that the station will have only one unit operating as a peaking plant and that OPG is only permitted to purchase 15,000 tonnes of fuel annually. It was estimated that the 15,000 tonnes of fuel will permit the single unit to operate at 2% of capacity. [10] The generating station will have a five-year contract to produce electricity starting in January 2015. [11]

As of 2015, the plant burns steam treated wood pellets (biocoal) from Arbaflame in Norway. [12]

On July 27, 2018 OPG and IESO announced the closure of Thunder Bay Generating Station due to having a leak in the boiler causing the station to be shut down since May. Estimated repair costs would be about $5 million and the contract expiration in 2020 was not intended to be renewed. [13] [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Electricity generation Process of generating electrical power

Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from sources of primary energy. For utilities in the electric power industry, it is the stage prior to its delivery to end users or its storage.

Pickering Nuclear Generating Station Nuclear power station in Ontario, Canada

Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is a Canadian nuclear power station located on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Pickering, Ontario. It is one of the oldest nuclear power stations in the world and Canada's third-largest, producing about 15% of Ontario's power and employing 3,000 workers.

Drax Power Station coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, England

Drax power station is a large biomass and coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, England, capable of co-firing petcoke. It has a 2.6 GW capacity for biomass and 1.29 GW capacity for coal. Its name comes from the nearby village of Drax. It is situated on the River Ouse between Selby and Goole. Its generating capacity of 3,906 megawatts (MW) is the highest of any power station in the United Kingdom, providing about 6% of the United Kingdom's electricity supply.

India is the world's third largest producer and third largest consumer of electricity. The national electric grid in India has an installed capacity of 368.79 GW as of 31 December 2019. Renewable power plants, which also include large hydroelectric plants, constitute 34.86% of India's total installed capacity. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, the gross electricity generated by utilities in India was 1,372 TWh and the total electricity generation in the country was 1,547 TWh. The gross electricity consumption in 2018-19 was 1,181 kWh per capita. In 2015-16, electric energy consumption in agriculture was recorded as being the highest (17.89%) worldwide. The per capita electricity consumption is low compared to most other countries despite India having a low electricity tariff.

Fossil fuel power station Facility that burns fossil fuels to produce electricity

A fossil fuel power station is a thermal power station which burns a fossil fuel, such as coal or natural gas, to produce electricity. Fossil fuel power stations have machinery to convert the heat energy of combustion into mechanical energy, which then operates an electrical generator. The prime mover may be a steam turbine, a gas turbine or, in small plants, a reciprocating gas engine. All plants use the energy extracted from expanding gas, either steam or combustion gases. Although different energy conversion methods exist, all thermal power station conversion methods have efficiency limited by the Carnot efficiency and therefore produce waste heat.

Nanticoke Generating Station

The Nanticoke Generating Station is a 44 MW solar power station which started operation in April 2019. Previously from 1972 to 2013, it was the largest coal-fired power plant in North America. At full capacity, it could provide 3,964 MW of power into the southern Ontario power grid from its base in Nanticoke, Ontario, Canada, and provided as much as 15% of Ontario's electricity.


Rentech, Inc. was a Los Angeles, California, based United States company that owned and operated wood fiber processing and nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing businesses. It provided wood chipping and wood pellet services through a subsidiary Fulghum Fibres, Inc. and sold nitrogen fertilizer through Rentech Nitrogen Partners, L.P. In addition, Rentech owned the intellectual property for a number of energy technologies, such as Rentech–SilvaGas Gasification Process and Fischer–Tropsch process based Rentech Process.

Drax Group company

Drax Group plc is a British electrical power generation company. The Group is made up of upstream and downstream enterprises. The principal downstream enterprises are based in the UK and include Drax Power Limited, which runs Europe's biggest biomass-fuelled power station, Drax power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire – the UK's largest decarbonisation project, as well as supplying between 7-8 per cent of the country's electricity needs. Related businesses include Haven Power, a supplier of electricity to business. The group's largest upstream enterprises are Drax Biomass, which sources sustainable biomass for Drax power station and Baton Rouge Transit, which handles storage and transport of finished biomass pellets from the Port of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Ontario electricity policy refers to plans, legislation, incentives, guidelines, and policy processes put in place by the Government of the Province of Ontario, Canada, to address issues of electricity production, distribution, and consumption. Policymaking in the electricity sector involves economic, social, and environmental considerations. Ontario's electricity supply outlook is projected to deteriorate in the near future due to increasing demand, aging electricity supply infrastructure, and political commitments, particularly the phase-out of coal-fired generation. Policymakers are presented with a range of policy choices in addressing the situation, both in terms of overall system design and structure, and specific electricity generating technologies.

Coal-fired power station facility that converts coal into electricity

A coal-fired power station or coal power plant is a thermal power station which burns coal to generate electricity. Coal-fired power stations generate over a third of the world's electricity but cause hundreds of thousands of early deaths each year, mainly from air pollution.

Atikokan Generating Station is a biomass power plant owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) located 8 km (5 mi) north of Atikokan, Ontario. The plant employs 90 people. The Atikokan Generating Station began operation as a coal fired station in 1985 and underwent an overhaul in the autumn of 2003.

Fossil fuel phase-out Stopping burning coal, oil and gas

Fossil fuel phase-out is the gradual reduction of the use of fossil fuels to zero use. Current efforts in fossil fuel phase-out involve replacing fossil fuels with alternative energy sources in sectors such as transport, heating and industry.

Ontario Power Generation electric utility company

Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) is a Crown corporation wholly owned by the Government of Ontario. OPG is responsible for approximately half of the electricity generation in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Sources of electricity include nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, gas and biomass. Although Ontario has an open electricity market, the provincial government, as OPG's sole shareholder, regulates the price the company receives for its electricity to be less than the market average, in an attempt to stabilize prices. Since 1 April 2008, the company's rates have been regulated by the Ontario Energy Board.

Canada is the world's second largest producer of hydroelectricity after China. In 2014, Canada consumed the equivalent of 85.7 megatonnes worth of oil of hydroelectricity, 9.8% of worldwide hydroelectric consumption. Furthermore, hydroelectricity accounted for 25.7% of Canada's total energy consumption. It is the third-most consumed energy in Canada behind oil and natural gas.

Coal in Canada

Coal reserves in Canada rank thirteenth largest in the world at approximately 10 billion tons, 0.6% of the world total. This represents more energy than all of the oil and gas in the country combined. The coal industry generates CDN$5 billion annually. Most of Canada's coal mining occurs in the West of the country. British Columbia operates 10 coal mines, Alberta 9, Saskatchewan 3 and New Brunswick one. Nova Scotia operates several small-scale mines, Westray having closed following the 1992 disaster there.

Tilbury power stations

The Tilbury power stations were two thermal power stations on the north bank of the River Thames at Tilbury in Essex. The 360 MW dual coal- and oil-fired Tilbury A Power Station operated from 1956 until 1981 when it was mothballed, prior to demolition in 1999. The 1,428 MW Tilbury B Power Station operated between 1967 and 2013 and was fueled by coal, as well as co-firing with oil and, from 2011, biomass. It was demolished in 2017-19. Tilbury B generated enough electricity to meet the electrical requirements of 1.4 million people, equivalent to 80% of the population of Essex.

Uskmouth power stations

The Uskmouth power stations refers to a series of two coal-fired power station at the mouth of the River Usk in the south-east of Newport, Wales. The first of the two station, Uskmouth A power station, was built in the 1950s and demolished in 2002. The steam turbine suffered a catastrophic overspeed event in 1958 killing two workers and throwing parts of the turbine into the adjacent river.

Biofuels play a major part in the renewable energy strategy of Denmark. Denmark is using biofuel to achieve its target of using 100% renewable energy for all energy uses by 2050. Biofuels provide a large share of energy sources in Denmark when considering all sectors of energy demand. In conjunction with Denmark's highly developed renewable energy resources in other areas, biofuels are helping Denmark meet its ambitious renewable energy targets.


  1. "Thunder Bay Generation Station". Ontario Power Generation . Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 "Thunder Bay generating station to burn biomass". Thunder Bay Newswatch. CBC News . Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  3. "Ontario Power Generation Moves to Cleaner Energy Future: Thunder Bay Station Burns Last Piece of Coal" (PDF). Ontario Power Generation . Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Thunder Bay Generating Station (brochure)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 29, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. Saskatchewan Energy and Mines (December 1994). "Coal in Saskatchewan" (PDF). Saskatchewan Publications Centre. p. 27. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. Stewart, Bob. "Thunder Bay coal plant to convert to gas". Kenora Daily Miner and News. Sun Media Corporation. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  7. "Thunder Bay Coal Plant To Convert To Cleaner Power". Province of Ontario. November 23, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  8. "Thunder Bay Conversion Project Suspended" (PDF). Ontario Power Generation. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  9. "Re: Supply Agreement with Ontario Power Generation for the conversion of Thunder Bay Generating Station" (PDF). Ministry of Energy, Government of Ontario. December 16, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  10. Ross, Ian (January 7, 2014). "Pellet solution will save on power plant conversion costs". Northern Ontario Business Ltd. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  11. "Cleaner Air for Ontarians". Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Gov't of Ontario. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  12. "OPG Celebrates National Bioenergy Day" (PDF). Ontario Power Generation. October 21, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  13. Vis, Matt (July 27, 2018). "Update: Generating station to be closed". Dougall Media. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  14. "High cost, lack of use shutters Thunder Bay Generating Station". Northern Ontario Business. Retrieved 2020-01-17.