Regulation

Details published for IGas’s Bletchingley hydrogen plans

IGas proposals to produce hydrogen at a second site in Surrey have been published.

Proposed Bletchingley hydrogen production site in Surrey. Source: IGas

The company has submitted a planning application to produce up to 2,000kg of hydrogen a day, round-the-clock, seven days a week, at its site at Bletchingley in the green belt near South Godstone.

A 46-page planning statement accompanying the application said the hydrogen would be produced at Bletchingley Central from methane extracted at the nearby Bletchingley-2 site.

There are no current proposals for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) so the production would be “grey hydrogen”. Carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere.

The hydrogen would be moved off site by road, resulting in up to eight daily visits by heavy goods vehicles, the application said.

The scheme proposes to use the steam methane reformation (SMR) process, where methane is heated with steam.

If approved, two SMR units would be installed, along with compressor equipment, new gas lines and parking for three transport trailers.

A public consultation is now underway until 18 October 2021.

At the start of this month, details were published of another IGas hydrogen scheme at Albury, also in the green belt and in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Details

IGas said the Bletchingley hydrogen production facility would replace two of the three power generators, which had been proposed to produce electricity from site methane.

The third electricity generator would remain to produce electricity for the site and, possibly, the national grid.

There would be no increase in gas extracted from Bletchingley, the company said.

The volume of hydrogen produced at the site would be enough to power 50-100 buses a day, IGas estimated, taking “significant volumes of diesel out of the transportation system”.

The company said SMR generates low levels of noise and minimal air emissions.

It estimated a “net improvement” in emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and sulphur oxides, through the displacement of diesel in buses and lorries and the previously-approved gas to wire generators.

The application said the SMR units would measure 16.5m long, by 3m wide and 7.6m at its highest. An exhaust flue is 10.9m high.

Hydrogen transport unit. Source: IGas

The automated transport unit, which would operate 24-hours-a-day, is the size of a shipping container, 12.2m long, 2.4m wide and 2.6m high.

As well as the transport of hydrogen, the company estimated there would be four tanker movements per week for water disposal.

IGas is also seeking approval of other changes at Bletchingley which were previously agreed in 2020. These include the installation of one of the 2MW electricity generators and alterations to the site layout.

A previously-approved electricity cable would not now be needed, the company said, and the site could be connected by a small transformer to overhead wires.

Grey and blue hydrogen

The application said “the centralized nature of the process” provides the future opportunity for CCUS as a second stage of the project. This would allow the company to produce blue hydrogen, with the removal of CO2, the company said.

IGas said it was “actively pursuing” CCUS and was “in discussions with various operators and advisors to make this second stage a reality”.

“Once all information is available, IGas intend to accelerate engineering feasibility work in order to finalise these concepts and progress to a point where they are ready to submit a planning application.

“Because of the uncertain timelines of CCUS and the environmental and wider economic and environmental benefits identified in this current application, it is considered prudent to proceed with ‘stage 1’ of this project, which in itself will deliver important benefits, whilst further clarity on the Government’s approach and support for low-carbon hydrogen is sought.”

IGas estimated that the SMR process produced estimated to be 7,379 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. But it said the two electricity generators, that would not now be installed, would have generated more than 15,000 tonnes per annum. The company estimates a saving of 465,893 tonnes of CO2-eq over the lifetime of the proposed development.

The use of hydrogen instead of diesel could lead to an annual reduction of 2,769 tonnes per year of carbon, it added.

Green belt

The proposal is considered inappropriate development in the green belt so very special circumstances must be demonstrated if it is to be approved.

IGas said these circumstances include the “significant and growing demand for hydrogen”.

The scheme would, it said, help to reduce reliance on imports and secure supply. It would be part of the transition to zero carbon economy, the company said, and a spur to development of an indigenous hydrogen economy.

IGas said the Bletchingley sites had been previously developed and operated and it said there would be no additional harm to the green belt.

If approved, the hydrogen scheme would run for 12-13 years. This is no longer than the previous electricity generational proposals.

IGas described the Bletchingley Central and Bletchingley 2 sites as “very discretely located”.

It said there would be no impact on the visual openness of the greenbelt. Landscape and visual effects during construction of the facility would be “very low and limited in duration”, the company said.

“The overall wider landscape effects of the proposals are concluded to be negligible, with the impact on local landscape character concluded as being negligible/slight. The impact on the character of the site is concluded to be ‘slight’.”

Other impacts

The nearest homes are 150m away from Bletchingley-2 and 650m from Bletchingley Central. There is an Area of Great Landscape Value to the North and woodland containing sites of archaeological importance are within 250m.

IGas said there would “negligible” impact from dust and pollution during construction. The impact on human health and nearby ancient woodland was negligible and insignificant, it said.

Noise limits from the machinery would need the limits at all nearby homes and the proposals would result in no impact or loss of amenity, the company said.

Lighting would be turned off when the site was no staff and only automated operations were underway, IGas added.

Decision

The application will be decided by Surrey County Council. The decision is currently listed to be made by planning officers under delegated powers.

DrillOrDrop will report on the proposals as they go through the planning system.

  • The application is SCC Ref 2021/0145

13 replies »

  1. Grey Hydrogen and CCUS. Is that pronounced ‘cuckoos’? Despite huge sums of money being mopped up by those promising CCUS, there still appears to be little in the way of delivery at scale or the prospect thereof, other than trees and other vegetation. Anything at scale coming over the horizon that I’ve not heard about?
    Quote: ‘IGas said these circumstances include the “significant and growing demand for hydrogen”.’ Are they referring to genuine demand (as in supply and demand), or redefining the wish list for Hydrogen that seems to have been around for decades, but showing little sign of delivery, particularly a supply that doesn’t just change carbon emissions from direct use of fossil fuels into one that merely converts emissions from one form to another?

    • Annual world production of Hydrogen is in excess of 70 million tonnes per annum. Did you miss the reports of the knock on effects when Carbon capture ceased at two UK Hydrogen plants?

      • As an approximate percentage, what is 70M tonnes pa compared to the requirement if all gas heating is converted to Hydrogen, plus anticipated vehicle fuel use? No, I’ve not seen those reports. How much carbon capture ceased as a percentage of what is currently being emitted on a daily basis worldwide?

        • 60% of the UK’s food grade CO2 supply was cut when those two Hydrogen plants stopped production and the associated Carbon capture.

          • Ah, an important loss in terms of food processing, but an utterly irrelevant proportion of the future requirement if Hydrogen were to be considered the mainstay of both business and domestic heating worldwide, plus vehicle fuel requirements. With or without CCS (most likely without given the current scale of operations?) how will the carbon emissions from such vast grey/blue hydrogen production be cut sufficiently to limit global warming to 2 degrees, never mind 1.5?

            • The road to Net Zero is about taking steps in reducing CO2 emissions, until we reach the balance point when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. It is not about the use of zero fossil fuels.

              One option open is the switching from a high polluting fuel to one that is less so.

              The overall CO2 emissions for manufacturing 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 not only the benefit of further CO2 emission reductions, but also the additional environmental benefit of the removal of SOx, particle matter and most of the NOx emitted by the combustion process.

              The next step along the road to Net Zero could be achieved by moving production from Grey to Blue Hydrogen with the use of CCUS.

              This would not only reduce transport emissions further, but also offer the opportunity to replace Methane with Hydrogen for business and domestic heating.

              There are large scale Hydrogen manufacturing units currently operating in the US, which have replaced traditional methane reforming with auto thermal reforming and make use of CCUS, which demonstrate that Blue Hydrogen can be produced in large quantities with comparable emissions to that of Green Hydrogen, contrary to the conclusion made by the Howarth and Jacobsen study (2021).

              What steps have you taken or suggest should be taken for reducing emissions to reach Net Zero, if we are to move away from Natural gas combi boilers in business and domestic premises?

                • Paul, the Hydrogen produced is categorised as Grey or Blue depending on if CCUS is utilised.

                  Auto-thermal Reforming (ATR) is a process that combines two traditional methods (partial oxidation POX and reforming SMR) for manufacturing Syngas from Methane in one reactor.

                  The process is increasingly replacing Steam Methane Reforming for the production of Ammonia, Methanol and certain Biofuels.

                  Methane, Oxygen and CO2 quantities can be varied in the reaction depending on what Hydrogen to Carbon ratio is required.

                  Some of the advantages of ATR over SMR are:-

                  Less energy intensive, the exothermic partial oxidation reaction provides sufficient heat for both the endothermic reforming part of the reaction and for energy generation.

                  Carbon capture >95% is possible compared to 67% with SMR.

                  Suitable for small to large applications, (SMR doesn’t scale down very well).

                  Lower capital and operational costs than SMR.

  2. Thanks again, John.

    Pretty damning really that the positive ideas for making those small steps don’t come from the antis. Who are the real deniers? Denying progress in favour of dogma.

    It was always going to arrive at this point, where turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Progress is more important than protest. There are plenty of other opportunities to protest if it has become a lifestyle choice, but it looks a bit rich to keep quoting 1.5 degrees and then being against things that will help.

    Using less energy is an option for a few, but will make no impression with the many-including the young who are energy addicts. So, energy needs to be cleaner and inexpensive. Anything moving in that direction should be welcomed.

    Wasn’t there someone who spoke something about a long journey starting with small steps-or, something along those lines? (My new grandson will likely take his first steps shortly. Perhaps I should protest and stop him doing so as they will not be perfect?)

  3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/28/eu-lawmakers-vote-prolong-fossil-fuel-gas-subsidies

    “European lawmakers have voted to prolong subsidies for fossil fuel gas until 2027, opening a potential backdoor for pollution that campaigners said would be a disaster for the climate if it becomes law.

    Members of the European parliament’s industry committee voted on Tuesday to allow the EU to continue subsidising natural gas pipelines until the end of 2027, as long as the energy is mixed with an unspecified amount of hydrogen.

    Hydrogen, which can be made from fossil gas or renewable sources, is seen by policymakers as a vital stepping stone to net zero emissions by 2050.

    The committee also voted to allow natural gas projects, such as pipelines and storage facilities, to be eligible for special status that will speed up their approval, although they ruled out access to EU grants for such projects. Campaigners estimate between 50 and 70 natural gas projects could obtain “project of common interest” status, an EU seal of approval that helps plans get off the drawing board, gain access to finance and exemptions from EU competition rules.”

    Europe seems keen on hydrogen, grey, blue, green or turquoise.

  4. I see Sir Jim is starting to take orders for his new vehicle, and is also working with Hyundai to then introduce an hydrogen version.

    If you want one, I suggest get in quick, as these could fly off the shelves.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s