RWE says that creating a sustainable energy system is at the heart of its business strategy, and the company aims to reduce its emissions in line with the 1.5 degree reduction pathway. RWE plans to phase out coal by 2030 and be climate neutral by 2040, which fits in well with the Dutch government’s climate targets of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 55-60% by 2030 (in line with the Paris Agreement) and then by 95% by 2050.

But, crucially, these goals are not achievable without removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to both the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Accordingly, RWE’s BECCUS plan aims to reuse and store carbon dioxide of sustainable, biogenic origin at RWE’s Amer and Eemshaven power plants. This will result in negative CO2 emissions of 11-14 megatons as of 2030, which amounts to about 7-9% of the total annual CO2 emissions produced in the Netherlands.

“RWE wants to become a company that removes CO2 from the atmosphere at an accelerated rate, in the Netherlands as well as elsewhere,” said Roger Miesen, CEO of RWE Generation SE. “In doing so, we are clearly breaking with the past, when gas and coal were the predominant fuels. It is our ambition to have both the Amer power station and the Eemshaven power station act as links in a completely closed CO2 cycle.”

According to RWE’s vision, the production of negative emissions and biogenic CO2 coexists with large-scale expansion of wind and solar power, battery storage and hydrogen production (both onshore and offshore).

However, flexible, controllable power is needed for several days when there is insufficient renewable energy available. This is where RWE’s power plants play an important role. RWE says it is, on the one hand, planning to make its gas-fired power plants suitable for green or blue hydrogen and, on the other hand, in order not to become too dependent on one technology, is pushing forward with its BECCUS proposal.

As well as producing electricity, the BECCUS- equipped power plants will provide the added benefits of negative emissions and production of sustainable, biogenic carbon dioxide for making biofuels and plastics, replacing fossil based production. Potential sites for storage of the CO2 include gas fields in the North Sea and off the coast of Norway, where CO2. storage projects are already underway.

The Amer power plant now runs on a fuel diet consisting of 80% organic waste streams in addition to coal, and Eemshaven is at 20% organic waste. RWE says its strategy is “to make the power plants part of both an organic cycle and a CO2 cycle in a few years’ time. Carbon molecules from the biogenic CO2 form the basis of the BECCUS project. Fully in line with the principles of the circular economy, these molecules are not waste products. On the contrary, this is a raw material of great interest to the chemical industry, agriculture and forestry, and the concrete and cement industry.”