RWE npower plans to design and build a pilot plant to capture carbon dioxide at Aberthaw power station in South Wales.

An initial £8.4m 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 to determine the potential of the technology.

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

The larger capture and storage demonstrator plant would form part of one of the company's new power stations which are currently under feasibility and planning at its existing sites in Tilbury, Essex and at Blyth, Northumberland.

'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 carbon dioxide capture and storage offers significant potential for reducing emissions. Our challenge is to ensure that we fully understand this potential and are best placed to make an investment that will support our energy strategy long-term,' said Andy Duff, CEO, RWE npower.

So far this year, RWE npower has committed £1.7bn to initiatives designed to support low carbon dioxide power generation in the UK and reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by a third by 2015 compared to 2000. Investments include new gas power stations in Pembroke in west Wales and Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire, plus four new onshore wind farms and a new, £190m offshore wind farm at Rhyl Flats in north Wales.

Last month, RWE npower’s sister company, RWE Power announced an agreement with BASF and Linde regarding the development of new processes for carbon dioxide capture from combustion gases in coal-fired power plants. The agreement will include the construction and operation of a pilot facility at the lignite-fired power plant of RWE Power in Niederaussem to test new solvents for the capture of  carbon-dioxide known more commonly as ‘scrubbing.’

RWE Power is planning to build the world’s first carbon dioxide free power plant based on integrated gasification combined cycle technology which could be commissioned in 2014.