IGas names second hydrogen site in Surrey

IGas has revealed it wants to produce hydrogen from methane at its Bletchingley site in Surrey.

The Bletchingley gas site in Surrey. Photo: IGas

The company has already announced similar plans for its site at Albury in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

IGas has opened an online exhibition, which runs until Friday 30 July. This does not replace a formal consultation which would be run by Surrey County Council if IGas submitted a planning application.

The Bletchingley site is in the greenbelt, east of Redhill, at Kings Farm, Tiburstow Hiill Road, South Godstone.

In 2016, planning officers, using delegated powers, granted planning permission for oil and gas production at Bletchingley for 15 years. In 2019, IGas got consent to generate electricity from gas produced from the field.

IGas has estimated that methane production from Bletchingley would be up to 34,000m3 a day.

In a letter to residents, IGas said hydrogen would be producing using the Steam Methane Reformation (SMR) process. This reacts methane with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2).

IGas has no current plans to capture and store the CO2 so hydrogen produced at Bletchingley would be “grey hydrogen”. “Blue hydrogen” is also produced from methane but the CO2 captured and stored.

The company said the CO2 released by the SMR process would be the same amount as if the gas were burnt in a boiler or gas engine.

It added:

“Because the emissions are produced in a single location they are much easier to capture and process for future utilisation or storage. IGas is exploring options for a future phase of development at the site once the Government has provided direction of the regulations and standards for “blue hydrogen”.

Plan of the Bletchingley gas site. Image: IGas

IGas said the hydrogen would be taken off site by tanker. It could be used in electrical fuel cells in large vehicles, like lorries and busses, replacing diesel.

IGas said total hydrogen output at Bletchingley could be 2,000kg per day. It estimated the site could power 50-100 buses a day.

It said:

“IGas have made the strategic decision to support the Government and national transition towards net zero and is proposing the exciting new development as an alternative use of the existing gas that is produced at the site. The proposal will facilitate the reduction of emissions that would otherwise be generated by diesel powered vehicles.”

If the scheme were approved, the company said it would install two SMR generators, both 7.6m tall, with flues 10.9m tall.

Tanker movements to export the hydrogen would be six-eight per day, IGas said. They would be at currently allowed times, with “minimal morning hours during weekends and Public Holidays”.

DrillOrDrop will follow IGas plans for Bletchingley and Albury and reaction to them.

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 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.

13 replies »

  1. Industrial sites belongs on properly planned purpose-built Industrial Estates and not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Robin Grayson, Liberal Democrat geologist FGS

    • And, therefore farming will cease to maintain Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and on shore wind turbines and solar farms will become extinct, Robin.

      Looking at the picture of this site, and the diagram showing how it fits within the landscape, that is a pretty desperate attempt to promote something that is irrelevant to this particular situation. [Edited by moderator] I would have thought a geologist recognised that gas can be found some distance away from Industrial Estates and may be capable of being processed where it is found with less impact upon the environment than transported long distances. Perhaps cattle should only be kept on Industrial Estates, so their methane can be processed accordingly? I believe quite a few are opposed to that.

  2. Looks interesting.

    I recall seeing a report a while ago regarding hydrogen being delivered by tanker to local trains in Germany, much akin to Calor Gas (other brands are available!) being delivered to farms. I thought this much better than the need to electrify local lines, with all the associated extra infrastructure and increased danger to the public. Getting cars off the road needs as many plus points for alternative transport means, and this could help for either trains or buses or delivery vans.

    But, some will decide it is not the right colour, and therefore it should not happen, in which case, who is part of the problem and who is part of the solution-because solutions come in all forms and there is no ideal one?

  3. I recall Tony Blair banging on about CCS but no commercial company seems very keen to invest the required money to get it up and running. Obviously there are ways of capturing CO2. You might take a look at what Finland is doing with its nuclear waste as another example. The UK seems completely wedded to short termism sadly, and having privatised and sold off just about everyhting we cannot exepct to see very much alturism coming down the line. Look at Southern Water, routinely flushing raw sewage off hte Kent coast where people swim, just so it can make more profits.

  4. CJR, I do agree that CCS has yet to be seen to work efficiently, but there are commercial companies willing to invest, and a reference was added by Paul T a short while ago detailing how that is being planned in UK. I hope that will work out and be a blueprint for others. Equally, you may say exactly the same about tidal power in the UK where commercial companies have been very reluctant to put investment in.

    Both, I would prefer the commercial companies lead the way because they are better at commerce.

    Southern Water have been a big issue for a long time, and i trust they are now going to see it would be better for them, and everyone else to sort it out. It is perfectly possible for them to do so, with other areas having seen a big improvement in recent years.

  5. The commercial companies (ie BP, INEOs – bring out the usual suspects) – billionaires living in tax-free frack -free Monaco like Jim Radcliffe are willing to invest. Perhaps paying enormous sums to lobby governments like the US and the UK. Perhaps promising to perform the miracle of zero carbon emissions but with a technology that is not proven, money that government will give them and their right to go on producing dirty energy so that they can continue earning their billions despite the destruction of the planet. But I am preaching to the converted I know. Some of you commenting on here already work for them
    Seriously CCS ? billions spent in trying to justify it over the years. I used to think it was a good solution – solve all our problems but it just doesn’t add up. Unless you are the CEO of a dirty fuel industry. Just google ‘greenwashing’ plus BP
    And you are right about the colour – grey hydrogen – isn’t this the worst? Using methane!! ….I can just imagine the replies to this comment but remember – Beware of multi millionaires bearing free gifts – they will offer to invest but they will want your money and government help to bulldoze local councils – they are not gifts and they are not free. One could say they will cost the earth

    • People promising to perform the miracle of zero carbon emissions but with a technology that is not proven?

      It may interest you to know that there were 26 operational large-scale carbon capture and storage facilities around the world as of 2020 ( the largest capable of capturing and storing 7 million metric tons of CO2 per annum), along with a further 3 in the late stages of construction, 13 in the advanced development stage and 21 in the early development stage.

        • Strange concern, Paul. Don’t seem to remember such when many of the alternative energy projects have been discussed-like the Swansea Lagoon.
          How much will electricity costs have to go up to recover some of the tax revenue from fossil fuels?

          • The current batch of operational large scale carbon capture and storage facilities around the world, cover a wide range of heavy industries, from electricity generation, oil refineries, chemical plants, steel production, hydrogen production to bio ethanol production.

            Air Products for instance have been capturing 1 million metric tons of CO2 per annum from their two Steam Methane Reformers located within the Valero Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas since 2014.

            The problem for some will be the fact that the recovered and purified CO2 recovered from the Hydrogen production at Port Arthur, is then delivered by pipeline to Denbury Onshore for use in their enhanced oil recovery operations.

            However, given that Centrica have announced that they can refurbish the decommissioned Rough storage facilities to a standard high enough to enable Hydrogen to be stored there, I don’t see a problem to refurbishing other depleted gas fields for permanent CO2 storage rather than relying solely on enhanced oil recovery projects.

    • OMG, now the conspiracy theorists!

      I stopped reading after the nonsense about Sir Jim and Monaco.

      Someone needs to update their own information.

      After that, they might suggest how energy transition will happen without industry input?

  6. Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist at TFIE Strategy reported by Michael Mann as commenting : “We’re in a hole that we’ve created by shovelling carbon out of the ground and into the sky. The first thing to do is to stop shovelling. All CCS does is take teaspoons out of massive scoops of carbon and puts them back into the hole.”

  7. Perhaps, as suggested a while ago by Oxford and Cambridge scientists, it will be realised that carbon is a valuable commodity and rather than see it as a problem it is seen as an opportunity.

    I recall diamonds and graphene are carbon. Decarbonising fuel may not just require stuffing the carbon into a hole, but it is likely to be where it starts. Plastic, which 1720 and others utilise, was stuffed in the ground. In places, it is being dug up again now to be re-used. Maybe antis will be able to purchase a keyboard manufactured from such material?

    Having been disappointed with EVs, I will look quite carefully at hydrogen powered cars, and there are quite a lot of people I know who are of the same inclination. Hydrogen fuel points are pretty easy to set up, and the replacement of fuel duty would be a doddle. “Ironic” that many who stress out about climate change also stress out about methods to combat it. Careful-there is a pattern that all that is wanted is a subject to stress out about.

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