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