Hydrogen production plant given the green light to power brewery, but not everyone is happy about it

Hydrogen production plant given the green light to power brewery, but not everyone is happy about it

February 12, 2024 1 By Angie Bergenson

The hydrogen will be produced next to a brewery in Lancashire.

A proposed hydrogen production facility was given approval in the UK. The new H2 facility will be constructed at the Cuerdale Lane site on greenbelt land next to the AB InBev (Anheuser-Busch InBev) brewery in Samlesbury and will power the brewery in place of natural gas.

Approval was given despite concerns over gas pipelines.

Using clean power produced at a hydrogen production plant to power a brewery and save thousands of tons of carbon emissions annually seems like a good idea to many, but some can’t shake their concerns over hydrogen safety.

A planning committee member cited safety concerns over a gas pipeline running through the site. According to a Yahoo News report, this was supported by Councilor Peter Mullineaux who was stunned by South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee decision to approve the facility, declaring, “If there was an explosion, it’d be catastrophic.”

However, the firm behind the proposed facility, Salmesbury Net Zero Ltd, insists it is safe. A representative from the firm told the committee the company operated a test site in Wales that utilized similar tech to what is being proposed for the Salmesbury plant and that the test site showed “hydrogen can be captured safely and efficiently for commercial use.”

Hydrogen production via electrolysis.

The proposed hydrogen production facility will use electrolysis (using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen) to generate hydrogen. The oxygen will be released into the atmosphere while the hydrogen gas will be captured and used by AB InBev to operate its boilers.

Hydrogen production - Image of Brewery

Using hydrogen instead of natural gas will reportedly help the brewery eliminate the 11,000 tons of carbon emissions it generates every year.

UK residents aren’t a fan of hydrogen projects in their cities.

hydrogen news ebookIt wasn’t only committee members who voiced their concern about the proposed hydrogen production plant. Residents also sent written objections, expressing environmental, highway and hydrogen-related concerns.

This isn’t the first time that hydrogen projects in the UK have been opposed by residents, either. Last year, a residential hydrogen heating trial was axed by the UK Government after residents in Whitby and Redcar protested the project, having been extremely worried about their safety.

Although the hydrogen production plant in Samlesbury won’t be heating homes, this time around it seems those who are concerned about safety have been overruled. Speaking of the hydrogen development, committee member Haydn Williams said, “Somebody somewhere is going to have to be the first to do it and I think we should be the first to do it.”

No date has been given as to when the proposed facility will be constructed. At present, though the application has been approved, since the plant is to be built on a greenbelt, the secretary of state must be notified. This means the government can decide if the council’s decision may require further consideration before the project receives full approval.

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