Fossil fuel company IGas has been accused of misleading local residents with greenwash over its plans to develop its Bletchingley site in Surrey.
IGas say they plan to produce hydrogen at the site, which currently produces natural gas. An online exhibition tells local residents that the hydrogen will “be used in a variety of ways, including the potential to power local buses” and that this supports the “national transition towards net zero”.
Yet one local resident pointed out that the plans are very far from climate-friendly.
Peter Murphy of Bletchingley wrote to IGas saying: “I was surprised to see that all the CO2 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’”.
IGas replied saying: “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”.
Carbon capture and storage is a new and expensive suite of technologies best suited to clusters of large scale energy intensive developments in, for example, the North East of England where there is also the potential for good access to storage sites in the North Sea. It is not yet deployed at scale in the UK and there are serious doubts whether it will be a viable option for mitigating emissions from fossil fuel hydrogen production in the next few decades. The government’s Hydrogen Strategy has been repeatedly delayed and it is unclear what ‘regulations’ IGas is referring to. IGas has produced no evidence of how it plans to capture and store carbon at Bletchingley – nor of how it will mitigate the carbon emissions from methane extraction while waiting for carbon capture and storage to become a viable option.
Peter Murphy says: “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 are working on putting in a planning application to Surrey County Council. The Weald Action Group will respond to the application when it is open for consultation.