Plans for a "clean coal" power plant are being looked at by npower, it was announced yesterday.

The company said the new power station in the Thames Estuary could be ready by 2016 and reduce the stations's carbon dioxide emissions levels by as much as 90 per cent per year.

RWE npower said it is starting a feasibility study into the construction of a clean coal power plant at Tilbury.

The Tilbury study will look at the end-to-end process from planning and consent to transport and storage options.

The company said it 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.

RWE npower yesterday also submitted its response to the Government Energy Review consultation and expressed a readiness to invest in a variety of low CO2 emitting forms of electricity generation, including offshore wind and new "Combined Cycle" gas fired power stations if the policy and regulatory environment improved.

Andy Duff, CEO of RWE npower said "The UK needs to maintain a broad mix of energy generation to guarantee secure electricity in the years ahead.

"We also need to dramatically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to hit environmental targets aimed

at tackling global warming. Both these goals can be achieved by the energy industry under the current market framework provided the Government adopts a supportive approach to investment, streamlining regulation processes and pump-priming advanced technologies.

"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."

Karen Darby, chief executive from said of npower's plan: "This is an interesting and exciting move for the UK energy industry which will not only benefit the environment, but could lead to a reduction in energy prices for consumers.

"Over the last two years, UK households have suffered from some of the biggest price increases in history. Domestic bills have gone up by 34 per cent for gas and 24 per cent for electricity in the last 12 months alone.

"Steep price increases will remain a concern as our gas supplies diminish and we become increasingly dependent on imported gas to generate electricity.

"If the UK was able to broaden its production by using coal to generate electricity, costs could ultimately be reduced." ..SUPL: