RWE npower has announced plans to design and build the first carbon dioxide capture pilot plant at a UK coal power station. The first phase could be fully operational by 2010 and will be located at Aberthaw Power Station in South Wales.

An initial GBP8.4 million investment will focus on a 1MW capture plant, with further investment planned to support a capture and storage demonstrator plant of at least 25MW. This will act as a crucial test ground for the potential of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as a means to generate low-carbon energy.

Both plants will be designed using post-combustion technology, which, unlike alternative CCS approaches, can be applied to existing coal power plants. The pilot will enable RWE npower to develop a full understanding of both the technical and commercial issues relating to CCS and will allow the CCS concept to be tested in as close to real operational conditions as is possible.

Andy Duff, CEO of RWE npower, said: Over the next decade, older coal and nuclear power stations will close, however coal continues to be an important source of energy for the UK and whilst this is the case we believe CO2 capture and storage offers significant potential. This pilot is a critical step in our plans to move towards cleaner coal power stations, which alongside investment in other low-carbon energy initiatives will ensure we can continue to meet the country’s energy needs, whilst significantly reducing CO2 emissions.