Plans submitted for solar hydrogen facility

A renewable energy company has submitted a planning application to produce hydrogen from an adjoining solar farm in Dorset, thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

So far as ENDS is aware, it is the only ‘green hydrogen’ facility – based on the renewably-powered electrolysis of water – to enter the development planning process so far. It would produce oxygen as exhaust.

Projects that recently received financial support from the government, as part of its Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, were almost universally based around ‘blue hydrogen’– manufactured from natural gas with the resulting CO2 captured and stored. But these are of far greater scale than the proposed scheme at the closed White’s Pit landfill site in Wimborne, Dorset, which would be supplied from solar panels able to produce only five megawatts of power.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council received the application from Canford Renewable Energy last month.

The five containerised hydrogen production units would be attached to ground-mounted photovoltaic arrays and four battery banks, five transformers and a switchgear container. The development would be accompanied by two hectares of biodiversity gain and landscape enhancements, the application states.

“The end result is high-purity hydrogen gas… fed into the applicant’s downstream process. The hydrogen would be suitable for use in refuelling stations, gas-grid injection and any other industrial process which requires hydrogen,” it adds. It would be enough to allow a lorry to travel around 1.5 million kilometres, the firm claims, with offers to take the fuel from the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and the Dorset Low Carbon Energy scheme.

The Environment Agency has already confirmed that a standard rules permit for the hydrogen plant would be required to put it into operation. It would be able to store about 250 tonnes of the gas.

The application says that the proposed development conforms with the National Planning Policy Framework requirement to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ that would allow it to be built within the green belt territory.

However, a note from the council says that the application is being treated as invalid, as it was submitted incorrectly.

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