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LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - RWE has captured the first tonne of carbon in a UK pilot project, the company said on Thursday, bringing it a step closer to applying a technology that could significantly reduce climate-warming emissions from power plants.
Over the next two years, the project at RWE's Aberthaw coal plant in Wales will test retrieving carbon emitted by 3 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity and indicate whether carbon capture technology can be expanded to a full-sized power plant, a spokesman 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," said Kevin Nix, UK head of hard coal and gas at RWE's generation unit.
Carbon capture remains unproven at industrial scale and costly to build, but if developed at large scale can curb carbon emission from fossil fuel-fired power plants.
The technology used at Aberthaw was developed by Shell-owned Cansolv Technologies and can capture around 50 tonnes of carbon per day.
RWE said it will be working with the UK's Environment Agency to track the impact of the carbon capture process on the surroundings of the power station.
Britain last year shortlisted four projects with full-scale carbon capture technology which also bury the carbon retrieved for a one-billion pound ($1.60 billion) funding competition.