The 450 MW facility could come on line in 2014 given timely regulatory approvals, the company says, having already initiated the first steps in the planning procedure.

The use of hard coal and the gasification of lignite are to be explored in parallel before RWE makes its decision on the primary energy source in the second half of 2007. Lignite is the preferred option currently.

RWE also plans to open an onshore CO2 depository, with total investment for the power plant and the transport and storage of CO2 estimated at approximately €1 billion (£600 million).

RWE chairman Harry Roels, said: “The world’s first large-scale power station with integrated coal gasification, downstream CO2 separation and CO2 storage is not just a major step forward for advanced energy conversion. Ultimately, we will be the first company in our sector to realise this kind of project on an industrial scale.”

RWE is also investigating downstream CO2 scrubbing which could allow CCS equipment to be retrofitted to existing facilities.

The news comes as the company’s UK arm, RWE npower, announces a feasibility study for a 1000 MW ‘clean coal’ plant at Tilbury in Essex

The plant is also expected use CCS technology based on a supercritical boiler and power island.

A key element of the study will be to examine carbon dioxide transportation options and storage in geological formations.

RWE npower will also use its testing facilities at Didcot in Oxfordshire to examine ways to improve combustion efficiency and develop the chemical processes for stripping out and capturing the carbon dioxide.

Andy Duff, chief executive of RWE npower said: “Clean coal technology has real potential which we are committed to exploring, but the confidence needed to make these multi-million pound investments depends on government maintaining a clear, transparent and consistent framework which encourages trust in future regulatory developments.”