IGas confirmed this morning it had submitted planning applications for two hydrogen schemes at gas sites in Surrey.
Details of the proposal for Albury, in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, have been published online.
At the time of writing, the application for the other scheme, at IGas’s Bletchingley site, east of Redhill, was not on the Surrey County Council planning portal.
1,000kg per day
The Albury scheme (SCC Ref 2021/0130), set in the green belt and in a Grade 1 registered park, seeks permission to produce up to 1,000kg of fossil hydrogen per day, from methane extracted at the wellsite. IGas said this was enough hydrogen to power 25-50 buses a day.
In the planning application, the company said there would be “no associated environmental impact” and the proposal was “fundamental” to the UK’s progression to a net zero economy. It should be approved without delay, it said.
IGas proposes to use the steam methane reformation process to produce what is known as grey hydrogen, without the capture, storage or use (CCUS) of carbon dioxide.
The planning application does not include any CCUS facilities or equipment.
But the company said there was an opportunity for CCUS in a second stage because of the “centralised nature of the process”. IGas said it was “actively pursuing this matter” and was “in discussions with various operators and advisors” to make a second stage a reality.
The company said the Albury proposal would “provide a much needed early facility for the production of hydrogen”. This was in line with the government’s policy to increase use of hydrogen as part of the energy transition, it said.
The scheme would result in a net improvement in carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions, IGas said, because it would displace the use of diesel and petrol in buses or lorries by hydrogen.
The government’s hydrogen strategy, published last month, is based on production of blue hydrogen (with CCUS) and green hydrogen, the lowest carbon option, made from water using renewable energy.
The strategy said:
“For hydrogen to play a part in our journey to net zero, all current and future production will need to be low carbon.”
A US study, also published last month, concluded that even blue hydrogen could be 20% worse for the climate than burning natural gas or coal for heat.
Opponents of IGas’s hydrogen plans have said they would, if approved, “lock the county into decades of emissions under the false premise of contributing to net zero”.
More gas production
IGas said the proposal would need approximately 10-12% more gas production from Albury because the site would continue to export methane to the grid and to use it to generate electricity.
Increased gas extraction, in itself, would not require additional equipment or vehicle movements, the company said, because it would return production to levels previously achieved or approved.
The hydrogen would be transported offsite by tanker seven days a week.
The company said the worst case would be four tanker visits per day or 28-35 a week. There would also be two light goods vehicle visits a week to remove water. Their likely impact on the site and surrounding would be “negligible”, IGas said, and no greater than the level already permitted for earlier CNG proposals.
A planning statement, which accompanied the application, said the steam methane reformation process generated “low levels of noise and air emissions”.
The statement said the proposal, based within the existing wellsite, would maintain the open nature and environmental amenity of the green belt and Surrey Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.
The hydrogen generator would measure 16.5m long, 3m wide and 10.9m high (vent pipe).
Other additional equipment would include a compressor unit, new gas line, surge tank, nitrogen supply tank and electrical module.
The unit to transport the hydrogen will be measure 12.2m long, 2.4m wide and 2.6m high. There will also be parking for two trailers and use of the access track for export of the hydrogen.
A consultation period on the Albury application is due to end on 21 September 2021. The application is listed to be decided by Surrey County Council planning officers under delegated powers, without a hearing by the planning committee.
IGas said the application did not need an environmental impact assessment, or any further ecological assessment. There was also no need for a new or updated heritage or landscape and visual impact assessments.
Permission for oil and gas exploration was first granted at Albury in 1987. In 2018, plans were approved for production of compressed natural gas and generation of electricity.
- IGas said it would be participating in a conference on carbon capture usage and storage and decarbonisation. The company’s presentation would be available online. The company also said it planned to release interim results for the six months to 30 June 2021 on Wednesday 22 September 2021.
Ruth Hayhurst will be reporting from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November 2021.