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E.ON and Electrabel to test clean coal technology

European power companies E.ON and Electrabel are teaming up to test how clean coal technology makes their energy plants greener. The move comes as governments and industry come under pressure to develop technologies to cut carbon pollution from coal-burning plants and help fight climate change.

A test plant to be developed by the two firms with Hitachi Power Europe will be used to test ways of curbing pollution at various power plants from next year, the three firms said in a statement on Thursday. The mobile tester will be able to treat 5,000 cubic meters of flue gas per hour from burnt coal and will be moved around E.ON and Electrabel sites over four years, the statement said. “It’ll be one of the biggest of its kind and get as close as possible to the next stages, which are pilot and demonstration plants and eventually commercial application,” a Hitachi spokesman said. “The cost runs into the double-digit million euros,” he added.

Power companies building new coal-fired plants now claim they are “capture ready”, which means they will be able to use pollution-cutting technology as soon as it is available. The EU Commission is seeking to make the process mandatory for new coal plants after 2020. But no such plant is yet up and running anywhere in the world and the challenge of how to store the captured CO2 safely underground is also far from being resolved. Sector peer RWE is working on a carbon cutting technology which it aims to launch in 2014. Vattenfall Europe is building a clean coal pilot plant in eastern Germany for the oxyfuel technology, which will use oxygen instead of air to burn the coal. (Reuters)