Beneath the gargantuan grey boiler towers of Schwarze Pumpe power station which pierce the skies of northern Germany, a Lilliputian puzzle of metal boxes and shining canisters is about to mark a moment of industrial history. This mini power plant is a pilot project for carbon capture and storage (CCS) - the first coal-fired plant in the world ready to capture and store its own CO2 emissions. Next week the pilot - an oxyfuel boiler - will be formally commissioned. A cloud of pure oxygen will be breathed into the boiler. The flame will be lit. Then a cloud of powdered lignite will be injected. The outcome will be heat, water vapour, impurities, nine tonnes of CO2 an hour¿ and a landmark in clean technology. Because the CO2 will then be separated, squashed to one 500th of its original volume and squeezed into a cylinder ready to be transported to a gas field and forced 1,000m below the surface into porous rock where it should stay until long after mankind has stopped worrying about climate change.