IGas has unveiled plans to produce hydrogen from methane at two of its sites in Surrey.
One is the Albury gasfield, near Guildford, in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The other site has not yet been named.
IGas said hydrogen production would help the UK meet its net zero target in carbon emissions. It would, the company said, provide a clean source of fuel and heat for homes, transport and industry.
Opponents of hydrogen from unabated fossil fuels said the process produced large amounts of pollution and contributed to climate change.
IGas has launched an online exhibition on the Albury proposals.
IGas’s spokesperson said the consultation would last for three weeks and a planning application was expected in early to mid July.
The location of the second site was “still up for discussion”, the company told DrillOrDrop. It said there should be a firm answer in “the next couple of weeks”.
The IGas spokesperson confirmed that the second site was operated by the company and a consultation on it would be launched “in a few weeks”.
Production of hydrogen from methane releases carbon emissions.
IGas has previously said it would produce grey hydrogen – made from fossil fuels without carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Asked today whether a planning application would include onsite CCS, the IGas spokesperson said:
“We are actively exploring both storage and/or utilisation but have not finalised our concept and are talking to technology suppliers and potential end-users.
“The UK Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Committee has announced that they are working on a standard to define what constitutes low carbon hydrogen, and we await that guidance and will factor that into our thinking on potential approaches.”
Hydrogen produced at Albury would use steam methane reformation (SMR), IGas said.
This takes methane and reacts it with steam to produce a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2).
The hydrogen produced would be “ultra-pure”, the company said, and could be used in electrical fuel cells to replace diesel in large vehicles. IGas estimated the release of about 3kg of CO2 was avoided for every litre of petrol or diesel displaced from transport.
The company said the CO2 released would be “the same amount as if the gas were burnt in a boiler or gas engine”. It added:
“The overall environmental emissions (even accounting for the CO2 released as part of the SMR process) are reduced because there are no diesel-combustion-related bi-products of NOx [nitrogen oxide], Sox [sulphur dioxide], or other harmful particulates, which constitutes a significant environmental improvement.”
IGas said hydrogen produced at Albury would be transported off the site by road. The production process would generate daily journeys by four heavy goods vehicles and four light goods vehicles, it said.
The company said all plant and equipment would be “fully containerised and contained within the existing fenced compound” at Albury. This would “further reduce the potential for visual harm as viewed from the wider area”, it added.
IGas’s spokesperson said the SMR generator would be 7.6m tall, with a 10.9m flue:
“The visual impact of this new equipment will be minimal as the site is currently bounded by a 2m high security fence, and woodland on all four sides at heights averaging between 20m and 25m.”
IGas estimates that about half of its current oil and gas production is from the Weald Basin.
The UK Onshore Geophysical Library lists six IGas exploration and production licences in Surrey.
They include wells at Albury, Bletchingley, Godley Bridge, Palmers Wood, Lingfield and Bramley.
Of these, only Albury is listed by the Oil & Gas Authority as a gas production site.
But gas has been found at one of the Bletchingley wells and IGas estimated in 2016 that production there would be up to 34,000m3 a day.
According to an IGas report, a well drilled at Godley Bridge has an economic presence of gas in the Portland sandstone.
Almost two years ago, IGas announced plans to drill two exploration wells in the Godley Bridge licence (PEDL235). But a public consultation event, planned for later that summer, was cancelled and the project suspended. At the time of writing, IGas’s website described Godley Bridge as a development project.
“Hydrogen no justification for oil and gas expansion”
Last year, the Weald Action Group, a network opposing hydrocarbon developments in southern England, argued there was no need to make hydrogen from fossil fuels.
In a briefing paper, it said blue hydrogen – hydrogen produced from fossil fuels with carbon, capture and storage – was “still a pipe dream”. It said the UK was unlikely to have sufficient CCS capacity in the coming decades to reach net zero by 2050. It also said CCS itself was carbon intensive.
Author Ann Stewart said:
“Instead of using yet more fossil fuels with their devastating impact on the climate, hydrogen can be made from water, with very low emissions. There is absolutely no justification for producing more fossil gas, in the Weald or elsewhere.”