Ontario Power Generation Kicks Off Phase 2 Biomass Testing at Nanticoke Generating Station



    NANTICOKE, ON, June 2 /CNW/ - Today Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
launched Phase 2 of its biomass testing at Nanticoke Generating Station.
    OPG is currently testing the use of biomass as a new energy source for
Ontario. Biomass used in OPG's program consists primarily of wood pellets and
agricultural by-products such as grain screenings and milling spoils that can
be burned to generate electricity. OPG does not use food crops in its biomass
program.
    Biomass is considered to be "carbon neutral", meaning the amount of
carbon released when burned is equal to the amount removed from the atmosphere
when being grown. "We continue to look for opportunities to reduce the impact
of our station on the environment," said Nanticoke GS Plant Manager Frank
Chiarotto. "Co-firing coal with biomass could provide us with an option to
reduce our environmental footprint. The Phase 2 test program is a significant
milestone as it will involve longer duration test burns".
    To date, OPG's Nanticoke Generating Station has successfully co-fired
milling by-products with coal to produce over 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of
electricity; enough power to meet the energy needs of 1,300 Ontario homes for
one month.

    Ontario Power Generation is an Ontario-based electricity generation
company whose principal business is the generation and sale of electricity in
Ontario. Our focus is on the efficient production and sale of electricity from
our competitive generation assets, while operating in a safe, open and
environmentally responsible manner.

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                                                                Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                     OPG'S BIOMASS CO-FIRING TEST PROGRAM
    

    Background

    Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will continue to explore opportunities to
reduce the environmental footprint from the operation of its four coal plants
for as long as they remain in service. Significant progress has been made in
the reduction of emissions related to smog and acid rain and particulates.
However, progress on greenhouse gas emissions to date has been limited to
plant efficiency improvements.
    Co-firing with biomass is an option for greenhouse gas (CO(2)) emissions
reduction. Burning biomass is considered "carbon-neutral." Use of biomass may
also result in reductions of other emissions.
    Biomass is defined as renewable or sustainable materials of forest,
agricultural (plant or animal) or marine origins.
    Biomass provides the opportunity to generate renewable energy from
existing coal plants.
    Jurisdictions in Europe have significant experience with biomass
co-firing. Typically, the amount of biomass co-fired varies between 5 per cent
and 25 per cent of total fuel input for individual units, depending on the
type and availability of biomass. Several jurisdictions including the United
Kingdom and the Netherlands use a combination of regulations (mandatory
renewable targets) and incentive programs (major tax incentives, GHG tax
credits) to promote the generation of power using biomass. The Netherlands,
considered a leader in the use of biomass, has a goal of producing 12 per cent
of total energy from coal plants by co-firing with biomass. This would consume
two million tonnes of biomass per year.
    OPG is supporting the provincial Atikokan Bioenergy Research Centre
(ABRC) program. Six projects (all academic and private sector partnerships)
are proceeding. Some will involve co-firing tests at Atikokan GS before the
program concludes in 2009.

    OPG Test Program

    All four OPG coal plants have a biomass program. Plants will conduct the
testing, research and cost estimating required to define a biomass option.
    The OPG biomass test program does not use food crops. Some agricultural
by-products are used as animal feedstock. OPG monitors the market conditions
to ensure that the testing program does not adversely impact market prices for
these commodities. Fuel purchases for the test program have been one-off
purchases. No long term fuel contracts are in place.
    Tests to date have been short-term tests with a high quality biomass
(high heat value, low moisture) using either pneumatic feeding through
existing coal pipes or in the case of pellets, through existing coal conveyor
and pulverizer systems.

    Atikokan
    --------
    In 2008, Atikokan test co-fired 200 tonnes of wood pellets which was
equivalent to 20 per cent of the energy input (~50 MW). Pellets were produced
from British Columbia trees that were destroyed by the pine beetle.
    The Atikokan plant will attempt to test co-fire increasing percentages of
wood pellets in the summer of 2008 and up to 100 per cent before the end of
2008.

    Nanticoke
    ---------
    Starting in 2007 OPG has tested biomass co-firing at Nanticoke using
wheat shorts (a by-product of the milling process) and wood pellets. Wheat
shorts were acquired from southern Ontario milling operations.
    In 2007, approximately 800 tonnes of biomass (primarily wheat shorts)
were co-fired at Nanticoke producing 1,345 MWh of electricity - enough
electricity to supply more than 1,000 homes for a month. This material was
delivered to the unit either by direct injection from the delivery truck or
mixed with coal before entering the boiler. This displaced approximately
1400 tonnes of CO(2) emissions.
    A biomass storage system has been installed at Nanticoke that allows a
10 per cent (50 MW) energy input on Unit 4. This is in addition to a direct
truck-based system already available on Unit 6. The combination of systems
would be capable of about a 2 per cent biomass input across the Nanticoke
plant. The storage system will permit longer term testing.

    Lambton
    -------
    Lambton is planning on testing dried distillers' grain (a by-product of
local ethanol production operations) as a fuel before the end of 2008, pending
receipt of approval from the Ministry of the Environment.

    Thunder Bay
    -----------
    Thunder Bay tested grain screenings from local terminals in the 1980s. A
test burn of 12 tonnes of grain screenings was conducted in 2006.
    Atikokan and Thunder Bay boilers are known to be well suited for biomass
firing as they were all built to fire high moisture lignite coal.

    Biomass Fuel

    Energy content varies by type of biomass fuel. The wheat shorts tested at
Nanticoke are generally about 50 per cent of the energy value per kilogram of
bituminous coal. The pelletized grain screenings at Thunder Bay have heat
value almost identical to lignite. Wood pellets tested at Atikokan have heat
value greater than lignite. Dried distillers' grain has a heat value very
close to Powder River Basin coal (PRB). All of these coals are in OPG's
current fuel mix.
    Approximately 600,000 tonnes of wood pellets could produce one billion
kilowatt-hours of electricity.
    The types of biomass currently being co-fired at OPG plants have been
limited to materials that are readily available, easy to handle and burn, and
therefore require minor changes and additions to existing infrastructure.
    Fuel transportation, storage and handling costs are a significant part of
the costs of biomass energy production. Typically, biomass fuels are more
expensive than coal per unit of energy produced. Actual costs would vary
depending on financing, location, system design and fuel cost.

    Looking Ahead

    Biomass is an opportunity that OPG will continue to explore. However,
there are many questions that still must be answered related to technical
feasibility, fuel supply and transportation systems, and social and economic
considerations. OPG, government, academics, forestry and agricultural
communities, entrepreneurs and business will all have to contribute to the
resolution of these issues before large-scale commercial operations can be
considered.

    Quotes

    "Biomass is an exciting opportunity we will continue to explore. It is
consistent with our commitment to assess and implement prudent environmental
improvements at our coal plants for as long as they are needed", Jim Twomey,
Executive Vice-President, Fossil

    "One of our most significant environmental developments in 2007 was the
launch of OPG's Greenhouse Gas Management Plan. Co-firing biomass with coal is
an important part of this ambitious agenda", Cara Clairman, Vice President,
Sustainable Development

    Ontario Power Generation Inc. is an Ontario-based electricity generation
company whose principal business is the generation and sale of electricity in
Ontario. Our focus is on the efficient production and sale of electricity from
our generation assets, while operating in a safe, open and environmentally
responsible manner.





For further information:

For further information: Kim McLennan, Public Affairs - Nanticoke, (519)
587-2201 ext 3919; Ontario Power Generation, Media Relations, 1-877-592-4008
or (416) 592-4008; For more information and to see OPG's biomass video visit
www.opg.com


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