IGas seeks planning approval for Surrey hydrogen schemes

IGas confirmed this morning it had submitted planning applications for two hydrogen schemes at gas sites in Surrey.

Hydrogen production facility proposed for Albury. Image: IGas planning application

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”.

Site plan for proposed hydrogen facility at Albury. Image: IGas planning application

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.

9 replies »

  1. This is ongoing fossil fuel production under cover of a green sheen. There will be carbon and methane emissions, from the 10-12% increased gas production, and from the steam methane reformation process which add to global levels, exacerbating the global heating crisis.
    The steam methane reformation process has high emissions of CO_2, at almost 7 kg CO_2/kg H_2 on average, and is overall responsible for about 3% of global industrial sector CO_2 emissions.
    In the production process alone (without factoring in transport etc) between 7 and 9.3 kilograms (kg) of CO2 is produced per kg of hydrogen production. One kilogram of hydrogen is the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline, which produces 9.1 kg of CO2 when combusted [Figures from Forbes and Praxair]. This means that, without carbon capture, CO2 levels are far greater than gas fired power.
    None of this adds up for energy production, and makes no sense in terms of Bletchigly and particularly Aldbury. A big fat NO!!!

  2. Dear humans, I bring you a present of this fabulous and huge horse. Good luck for the future. Love from the Trojans

    • Oh Dear!

      Well, Mike, what can I say?

      A bit of research ref. the Aeneid would have prevented “beware of GREEKS bearing gifts” being confused with “it’s all Greek to me”.

      Dear humans-DYOR!

  3. A big fat YES!

    Fossil fuel production will continue for decades to come. Yes, ongoing fossil fuel production, without which the activists would be silenced!

    That is all part of UK’s energy strategy. It is well known and accepted that is the case.

    Within that strategy, net zero can still occur.

    For those who want to use daft maths. to try and prevent transition to something better (ermm, buses are not running off gas fired power!) they are part of the problem simply masquerading as part of the solution.

    I would like to see hydrogen buses as quickly as possible. They would be a big improvement, and could then be followed by hydrogen powered vans. (The buses are most significant, as they tend to operate in built up areas often stopped with engines running surrounded by large numbers of people.) Like all new means of transport, the early ones will not be the ultimate design but waiting for the ultimate will just stop the whole process in it’s tracks. (I see Sir Jim has plans for a hydrogen version of his new vehicle! Ironic that the “evil” Sir Jim is driving improvement to the environment, whilst the antis are working against it. I suppose it fits into the turkeys don’t vote for Christmas category.)

    Anyone notice that there has been a number of cases in court requesting that fossil fuel production considers downstream emissions? When that is considered, then some want to turn around and ignore it!

    Added to which, if production of hydrogen can be kept within an existing site, then industrializing the countryside with new plants will be reduced.

    Definitely, a big fat YES.

  4. The only way that any semi-reasonable case could be made that Igas’s proposal fits with the Govt’s energy strategy would be if their new plant were to be fitted with CCUS. There is no reason for more hydrogen to test whether buses can run off it. It has already been proved they can. The problem is producing that hydrogen cleanly, which their existing proposal fails to do. Producing the hydrogen would result in more emissions than burning the equivalent amount of natural gas and at far greater cost.

    In any case, even making hydrogen from plants with CCUS still locks in the residual emissions for the lifetime of the plant, which would probably extend past 2050. So the Government relies on the dubious assumption that the emissions from this flagship new “clean” fuel can be offset by negative emissions technologies. That is not a very convincing energy or climate strategy.

    • Thank you Christopher. It’s a pity we have to keep saying it but this government’s strategy stops at keeping its support, the polluting industries included, sweet by facilitating these industries’ sole concern, the bottom line. Its hydrogen plans will not achieve the stated effect through the blue channel but the waving of the hydrogen flag will, it hopes, act as the battle cry which keeps more voters on board. The shame of it is that government simply doesn’t get it. If only cognitive dissonance were an adequate explanation of its simultaneous carbon intensive oil field projects.

      • [Edited by moderator] Perhaps there are many who are not searching for things to protest about but would quite like to see companies with strong bottom lines investing in industry-because that strong bottom line simply means less taxation upon the private individual, and/or more spend upon other things eg. Social Care.

        And, your typical activist speak about things like these industries’ sole concern, is just that, and inaccurate. [Edited by moderator] Do you really think it adds up with your posts about the urgency of dealing with climate change when you seem intent on wasting the next few years by moaning about this particular Government? What if it is basically the same for the following 5 years? Will it still be more important to moan about the Government than to think about 2050?

        I am quite interested to see what standards are set regarding hydrogen. If IGAS can meet those, fine to me. There seem to be some who have decided before those standards are set. That is just incoherent to me, and would only have a little coherence if they had “interests” in other sources of hydrogen-although I am not a supporter of negative sales techniques.

        [Edited by moderator]

    • The overall CO2 emissions for manufacturing Grey Hydrogen from Methane without CCUS, compared to those for manufacturing diesel from oil are considerably less.

      If that Hydrogen then replaces diesel as fuel in HGV’s, buses etc, then there is the additional environmental benefit of the removal of SOx, particle matter and most of the NOx emitted by the combustion process.

      The next improvement step would be to move to production of Blue Hydrogen with the use of CCUS. In a European context, if the appropriate technological choices are made, blue hydrogen can be produced with comparable emissions to that of green hydrogen, contrary to the conclusion made by Howarth and Jacobsen (2021).

  5. Thank you John, for showing how such a plan by IGAS could improve the situation with regard to emissions. (And remember, much of UK used diesel is imported, so transport emissions also feature.)

    Maybe not the ultimate for some, but since when has the ultimate been essential within any plans regarding energy supply and use Including transport? Quite simply, there would be no alternative energy schemes up and running if the same was applied, and there would be no one protesting outside the gates of drilling sites. Equally, there would be no vehicles on the road carting cobalt up and down the country.

    The key for this application is whether IGAS can show that their proposal will improve matters, and meet standards set. If they can, it should be authorized. It really is not that complicated and would in no way preclude others from going down different paths to produce their own products.

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