The Canadian province of Ontario has fulfilled its commitment to end coal generation in advance of its target of the end of 2014. Ontario’s oldest and last remaining coal-fired plant, Thunder Bay Generating Station operated by Ontario Power Generation, burned it last piece of coal in April.

Since 2003, the Ontario has replaced coal generation with a mix of nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar, along with lower-emission electricity sources like natural gas and biomass. It becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of generation.

The Thunder Bay plant, which came into service in 1963, is due to be converted to burn advanced biomass starting from 2015. Converting the station to advanced biomass will retain 60 jobs in Thunder Bay.

OPG is currently seeking suppliers for the advanced biomass fuel and says it is negotiating a power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority.

"This is a new beginning for the Thunder Bay station that puts OPG at the forefront of an exciting new area of the electricity industry. Our biomass conversions will also allow us to develop expertise than can be exported worldwide," said Tom Mitchell, OPG’s president and CEO.

OPG’s Lambton and Nanticoke stations stopped using coal as fuel in 2013 and are being preserved so that they are available in future to be converted to alternate fuels if required. OPG is also converting its Atikokan station in the north of the province to use biomass fuel and says the project is due to be completed ‘this summer’.