First tonne of CO2 captured at RWE npower carbon capture pilot project

RWE npower’s carbon capture pilot plant at Aberthaw Power Station – the first of its kind in Wales and one of the largest to be built so far in the UK – has commenced commissioning with live flue gas, successfully capturing its first tonne of CO2.

This significant milestone of ‘first capture’ marks the commencement of the final commissioning phases of the carbon capture plant, which pilots carbon capture technology designed by Cansolv Technologies (part of the Shell Group). When commissioning is complete, the plant will capture around 50 tonnes per day of CO2 from Aberthaw’s flue gases (which equates to the amount of CO2 produced by 3MW of electricity generation).

The start of 2013 marked the launch of RWE Generation, a new pan-European approach to the management of RWE’s power station fleet across Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. By the end of 2013, it is expected that Aberthaw will be the last of RWE npower’s current fleet operating on coal.

Kevin Nix, Head of Hard Coal and Gas, UK, RWE Generation, said: “This pilot plant at Aberthaw will provide invaluable data on the viability of capturing carbon at an industrial scale, and help RWE to better understand how this technology could be used to reduce carbon emissions at coal-fired power stations.”

Matthias Hartung, CEO, RWE Generation, said: “RWE now has more installed renewable energy capacity and a larger and more efficient gas-fired power station fleet than any other energy company in the UK, and has invested more into new energy technologies for Britain than anyone else over the last few years.

“The carbon capture pilot plant is another step on the road to giving us the choice of technologies we need to create a modern, efficient and diverse energy portfolio that is capable of guaranteeing continuity of supply, while reducing costs and carbon emissions.”

During the R&D programme, RWE will optimise the performance of the technology, and use the facility to better understand the practical implications of operating a full-scale carbon capture facility in conjunction with normal power plant operations. The environmental performance of the process will also be assessed, and during the programme RWE will be working with the Environment Agency to track and evaluate the environmental aspects of carbon capture technology for coal-fired power stations.

Operation of the carbon capture pilot plant is the latest milestone in an ongoing programme of low carbon investment by RWE that has seen more than £3.5 Billion invested in the UK in recent years. A new £1bn combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant at Pembroke power station entered full commercial operation in September 2012, and RWE npower has led the world with innovative new approaches, converting Tilbury Power Station from coal to 100% sustainable wood pellets in 2011. At Aberthaw, RWE has made significant investments in environmental improvements including flue gas desulphurisation technology, upgraded steam turbines and biomass capability.

The Aberthaw Carbon Capture pilot is just one strand of RWE Generation’s wider R&D programme for innovation in energy technologies, and just one aspect of the R&D the company is undertaking on coal as a fuel. In Germany, our Coal Innovation Centre runs a number of unique projects which focus on the capturing and usage of CO2 in cooperation with partners such as Siemens, Linde, Bayer and BASF.

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