IGas misleads Surrey residents with hydrogen greenwash

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.

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6 Replies to “IGas misleads Surrey residents with hydrogen greenwash”

  1. Meanwhile, at IGas Singleton, W.Sx. two flares and other on site emissions produce the biggest single source of carbon based emissions in West Sussex.

  2. Perhaps there’s a need for more education on the various ‘colours’ of hydrogen production, for more people to understand the fallacies (lies?) of the likes of IGas.
    See here:
    “Brown hydrogen, the most abundant in use today, is created from hydrocarbon-rich feed stock, such as methane gas, coal or other fossil fuels. Put bluntly, production of brown hydrogen is very dirty. For every tonne of brown hydrogen produced, you get – at a minimum – between 10 and 12 tonnes of CO2. That’s not even including the CO2 produced by the energy source driving the process, or the CO2 produced in transporting the hydrogen to the customer. In all, production and transport of brown hydrogen is very bad for the environment.

    Blue hydrogen is essentially brown hydrogen but where a significant amount of the CO2 has been captured. While blue hydrogen is much cleaner than brown, you still have the added step of capturing and storing the CO2 produced in the hydrogen forming process, as well as the issue of transporting the hydrogen to the customer.

    Now we get to my favourite colour of hydrogen (beyond purple, of course… have a listen to my podcast to find out what I mean about that!) Green hydrogen refers to hydrogen that is produced using renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen through water electrolysis. Often this hydrogen is produced on-site at the hydrogen consumer’s location, eliminating the issue and CO2 footprint of transportation. Green hydrogen is truly carbon-zero with no carbon footprint or impact on climate change or the environment.”

    1. Thank you for the information about the different types of hydrogen. Green seems the only sensible way forward, as all our lives are at stake all over the world if prevarication and profits take first place.
      Are there other countries that you know of who are setting a good example for us to follow in this area?

      1. Hello Dave and Heather,

        The colours keep coming. I have just come across turquoise hydrogen! This also uses methane as a feedstock, like blue hydrogen, but has solid carbon as a biproduct rather than carbon dioxide.
        However, at the moment, as a response to the climate emergency, the main issues are blue and green, because those are the two that the government is investing in…. a lot.
        Both systems are still very expensive, still at an early stage in terms of producing hydrogen at scale and they still have a lot of uncertainties. The government line seems to be promoting blue hydrogen more than green hydrogen and we think this is because of the lobbying of the fossil fuel industry. Blue hydrogen will keep the gas industry going for decades and it uses lots of extra gas to fuel the carbon capture and storage process, so they wold be quids in.
        However, the EU seems to be putting more investment into green hydrogen technologies. One project is a Belgian project to use excess wind energy to produce hydrogen which is the first of its kind.
        Another is a German project that will produce hydrogen directly at the off-shore wind turbine.
        If you read more of that blog you will find a Spanish solar project for hydrogen too.

        Time will tell which of the many projects that are in development will turn out to be the most effective. However, recent research seems to show that blue hydrogen could actually produce more carbon dioxide than simply burning the natural gas directly. That makes the government commitment to blue hydrogen even more worrying.
        I hope this help.

    2. Green is also our favourite colour; no surprise there, but I have just come across turquoise hydrogen. This gets hydrogen from methane using pyrolysis, and rather than carbon dioxide it has solid carbon as a waste product. I will be investigating further.

  3. What a lot there is to learn about hydrogen! I have an innate distrust of big businesses when government funding is in the offing! There needs to be Much more openness about the extraction of hydrogen and the by-products thereof.

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