A resident in the Surrey village of Bletchingley has accused fossil fuel company IGas of “misleading greenwash” over its plans for a local hydrogen production site.
The company currently produces methane from its site at Bletchingley, east of Redhill. But it is preparing to apply for planning permission to convert gas from the site to hydrogen.
Last month, IGas hosted an online exhibition in which it said Bletchingley hydrogen would be used in “a variety of ways”, and could, potentially, power 50-100 local buses a day. This would support the national transition towards net zero carbon emissions, the exhibition said.
But one Bletchingley villager, Peter Murphy, is arguing that IGas plans are not climate-friendly. He wrote to the company saying:
“I was surprised to see that all the CO2 [carbon dioxide] produced in extracting the hydrogen from methane will be released into the atmosphere at the site.
“The website states that there will be ‘future opportunities for us to capture and use it in beneficial ways or to store it’.
“Shouldn’t capturing and removing the CO2 be a basic commitment in order to use this process? Otherwise it seems difficult to understand the claim that it will ‘constitute a significant environmental improvement’”.
“Unfortunately, carbon capture has not been implemented on the plans yet as the Government has not confirmed the regulations which will govern the production of different types of hydrogen.
“Hopefully, these will be confirmed quickly and once they have IGas will look at the technical requirements needed to meet those regulations”.
Bletchingley is one of two IGas sites earmarked for hydrogen production. The other is at Albury in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
At both sites, IGas propose to use the Steam Methane Reformation (SMR) process. This reacts methane with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2).
Mr Murphy said:
“IGas needs to come clean about all the emissions from this proposal.
“While hydrogen has a key part to play in the energy transition, it needs to be the right kind of hydrogen. Producing hydrogen from gas creates a large amount of carbon emissions and contributes to climate change.
“Hydrogen produced from renewable electricity has very low CO2 emissions and is the green option. IGas can’t pretend the need for hydrogen for the zero-carbon economy justifies ongoing fossil fuel production.”
IGas has given no details about how it plans to capture and store carbon at Bletchingley, nor how it would mitigate the carbon emissions from methane extraction while waiting for CCS to become a viable option.
The Weald Action Group, which is campaigning against fossil fuel exploration and extraction in southern England, has described carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) as “a new and expensive technology best suited to large projects which have the capacity to treat and bury the carbon on site”.
CCUS is not yet deployed at scale in the UK. In a DrillOrDrop guest post, the group’s Ann Stewart said there were no publicly announced plans to develop CCUS in the south in the next decade.
The government had planned to produce its hydrogen strategy earlier this year. It was then due to be published in July 2021 but the deadline passed. Publication has now been delayed to an unspecified date.
- DrillOrDrop will report on the IGas planning applications for hydrogen production at Bletchingley and Albury when they are submitted and published.