The country's biggest carbon capture (CC) pilot plant began siphoning emissions from SSE's 490 megawatt coal-fired station at Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire on Wednesday, in the latest effort to prove the technology on an industrial scale.
The carbon capture plant, developed by utility SSE, technology provider Doosan Power Systems and Sweden's Vatenfall, is the first of its size to be integrated into a live power plant in the UK, SSE said in a statement.
In capturing 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide daily, the plant bridges the gap between small pilot trials that are underway and the commercial-scale demonstration projects envisaged by the government to help meet ambitious 2020 carbon targets, SSE said.
Secretary of Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne, who attended the inauguration, said: This investment will be invaluable to the wider commercial scale deployment of CCS by reducing uncertainty, driving down costs and developing the UK supply chain and skills.
The commitment to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology was thrown into doubt in October after the British government cancelled plans to fund a full-scale demonstration project in Longannet in Scotland.
Industry insiders said the scrapping of the scheme signalled the technology remains too costly, undermining Britain's ambition to become a clean technology leader.
CCS is a commercially unproven technology but is widely seen as a key mechanism to fight climate change by trapping and burying greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining stable energy supply.
SSE said it is pushing ahead with development of a carbon capture demonstration project at its Peterhead gas-fired plant.
(Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; editing by Keiron Henderson)