The plant is expected to cost approximately E2 billion. The first block is due to commence operations in 2011 and the second in early 2012. Together they will generate an output of 1,600MW.

With an efficiency rate of around 46%, the new hard-coal twin unit will reduce CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tons annually compared to older plants with the same output, corresponding to a 30% reduction. In addition, the new plant will be equipped with capture ready capability, according to RWE.

Twenty-three municipal utilities from four different German states are partners in the new power plant. They have teamed up to form a co-operative, Gekko, and will hold a 350MW share in the venture.

Dr Juergen Grossmann, CEO of RWE, said: With this project, RWE Power is forging ahead with its publicized power plant investment program for Germany. New generation capacity is urgently needed if we are to ensure a modern energy supply and avoid shortages. The closure of several end-of-life plants alone will trigger a shortfall of some 35,000MW of power plant capacity by the year 2020.