Ontario will soon be facing an unprecedented demand for new electricity supply as some of the nuclear plants, a major supplier of Ontario’s electricity, are taken out of service. Currently, the Northwest will also be short of power as a number of new mines connect to the provincial grid.
The current shift to green power is opening up new options for the generation of electricity that could help to meet the demand. Ontario Power Generation is exploring new hydro projects, but people living in the boreal forest region know there’s already another viable source; one that not only produces green renewable energy, but creates good paying, long-term jobs in the smaller communities of the province.
It is forest biomass, consisting largely of the left over wood from logging and sawmill operations.
Northern Ontario already has a positive history of the use of forest biomass in the creation of electrical energy. Several existing and former pulp and paper mills, in conjunction with their respective sawmills, have used left over fibre as a fuel to generate steam and electricity for their own use as well as in some cases selling it to the provincial electrical grid.
There are currently five biomass facilities operating across the North – Atikokan GS, Resolute FP in Thunder Bay, Atlantic Power’s Calstock facility, Hornpayne Power and GreenFirst in Hearst. Three out of the five are combined heat and power facilities with the remaining two solely generators for the grid.