Thunder Bay Generating Station

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

Thunder Bay Generating Station
The Thunder Bay Generating Station
LocationThunder Bay, Ontario
Coordinates48°21′36″N 89°13′12″W / 48.36000°N 89.22000°W / 48.36000; -89.22000Coordinates: 48°21′36″N 89°13′12″W / 48.36000°N 89.22000°W / 48.36000; -89.22000
Commission date1963 (coal)
2015 (biomass)
Decommission date2018
Owner(s)Ontario Power Generation
Thermal power station
Primary fuelAdvanced biomass
Turbine technologySteam turbine

Thunder Bay GS was in operation from 1963 to 2018.[2] It was the last coal fired station in Ontario.[3] The plant was initially shut down in April 2014 as part of Ontario's phase out of coal-fired electricity generation,[4] before being converted to run on advanced biomass (wood pellets) and recommissioned on February 9, 2015.[4]

Historic operationsEdit

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.[5]

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[6] and low-sulphur sub-bituminous coal from the Powder River Basin in the United States.[5]

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 coalEdit

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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[4]

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.[10] 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.[11] The generating station will have a five-year contract to produce electricity starting in January 2015.[12]

As of 2015, the plant burns steam treated wood pellets (biocoal) from Arbaflame in Norway.[13]

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. [14][15]

In 2021 demolition began on the generation station by Hamilton-based company, Budget Demolition. The work is expected to take two to three years and the majority of the materials will be recycled. [16] The 650-foot chimney came down in a controlled demolition on 9 September 2021 and was captured on video on YouTube.


Emissions from Thunder Bay Generation Station from 2004 to 2009.[17]

The Thunder Bay Generating Station ranked within the top 200 facility emitters, according to Environment Canada.[18]

Greenhouse Gases (2010)[17]
Greenhouse gas Sum (tonnes) Sum (tonnes CO2e*)
CO2 264,950.63 264,951
CH4 3.86 81
N2O 4.75 1,472
Total - 266,504

*Calculated figures for CO2e are rounded to the nearest tonne.

Total emissions, 2004-2010[17]
Year Emissions (tonnes CO2e)
2004 1,128,341
2005 1,159,003
2006 1,137,327
2007 712,571
2008 832,868
2009 190,366
2010 266,504

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Thunder Bay Generation Station". Ontario Power Generation. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  2. ^ "OPG to close Thunder Bay Generating Station". CBC News. July 27, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  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. ^ a b c "Thunder Bay generating station to burn biomass". Thunder Bay Newswatch. CBC News. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Thunder Bay Generating Station (brochure)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 29, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  6. ^ Saskatchewan Energy and Mines (December 1994). "Coal in Saskatchewan" (PDF). Saskatchewan Publications Centre. p. 27. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Thunder Bay Coal Plant To Convert To Cleaner Power". Province of Ontario. November 23, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Ross, Ian (January 7, 2014). "Pellet solution will save on power plant conversion costs". Northern Ontario Business Ltd. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cleaner Air for Ontarians". Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Gov't of Ontario. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  13. ^ "OPG Celebrates National Bioenergy Day" (PDF). Ontario Power Generation. October 21, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  14. ^ Vis, Matt (July 27, 2018). "Update: Generating station to be closed". Dougall Media. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "High cost, lack of use shutters Thunder Bay Generating Station". Northern Ontario Business. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  16. ^ "Demolition underway at former OPG generating station (10 photos)".
  17. ^ a b c "Facility and GHG Information - In 2009, the Thunder Bay Generating Station". Environment Canada. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Erreur HTTP 404 - non trouvé".

External linksEdit