Hybrid wind and hydrogen plant concern

INDUSTRIALISATION on a significant scale is the fear of many Ayton residents after rumours started circulating that a “green” hydrogen plant was being considered on the same site as the proposed wind farm at Blackmains.

Campaigners opposing Enertrag’s current plans for a three turbine wind farm at Blackmains believe that discussions about the hydrogen plant have taken place between Enertrag and Scottish Borders Council’s planners.

Enertrag insist they have no current plans to develop hydrogen products in the UK but a spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council confirmed: “We have recently (June) received a provisional enquiry regarding this.

“At this stage the prospective applicants have simply been directed to the relevant development plan policies with which any proposal must comply. They have also been asked for further information regarding the specifics of the proposal including the size of any plant and buildings.”

Refuting the rumours Enertrag’s director Christopher Small said: “Enertrag has no current plans to develop hydrogen production projects anywhere in the UK.

“Any plans relating to green hydrogen production would be discussed and posted locally. As this has not taken place, and as Enertrag has not made any statements in this regard, it is surprised by such assertions and cannot be held responsible for any associated rumour or inaccurate information.”

The idea of storing excess wind energy as hydrogen is challenging green energy developers as maximum energy production from turbines is often overnight, when power demand is low.

Enertrag’s first wind–hydrogen hybrid power plant in Germany began delivering hydrogen to a Total hydrogen filling station in Berlin earlier this year, to fuel cell electric vehicles. And because of their expertise in this field Enertrag were invited by the newly formed Border Energy Agency (BEA) to give a presentation about the use of hydrogen in connection with mobility in mainland Europe.

“This facility uses renewable resources to generate electricity, biogas, heat and heated water, and also green hydrogen,” explained Mr Small. “The BEA is keen to investigate how such new technology might be included in the energy mix for the Scottish Borders.

“Currently, however, Enertrag has no wind farm project in the UK where such activity would be financially feasible. UK market conditions are constantly being monitored for beneficial change in case such activity does become feasible.”

The Oppose Blackmains group issued a statement saying: “This experimental chemical works and giant turbines will likely include not only the production facilities, but also large tanks to store the potentially unstable and explosive hydrogen.

“It represents industrialisation on a significant scale, completely alien to the surrounding landscape.

“Residents in Ayton and Reston threatened with living in the shadow of 136 metre turbines now face the additional safety threats associated with industrial processing, chemical leaks, and the risk of explosion.

“The lowland landscape around Blackmains makes it an unsuitable location for large commercial turbines. We ask Scottish Borders Council to protect us from this madness; it is no place for a hydrogen plant.”