In his 2020 Budget speech, the UK Chancellor announced a £10 million fund to help UK’s world-famous distilleries go green by switching to low carbon fuels such as hydrogen. The Green Distilleries programme is taking a portfolio approach and aims to fund a range of different solutions which could include electrification, hydrogen, biomass or waste. In addition, enabling technologies will be considered and could include fuel conversion, transportation or storage.
Producers in one of the UK’s most iconic industries will be playing their part in reducing carbon emissions, with 17 distilleries today receiving the first phase of £10 million government funding to go green. Eleven distilleries across Scotland and a further 6 in England will be able to kick-start green innovations thanks to the government backing, helping them harness energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations.
Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Building back greener from the pandemic is something we can all raise a toast to. Every business can play a part in the green industrial revolution and this funding will allow UK distilleries to lead the way by making their production cleaner while also creating jobs.”
In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20%, highlighting the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of the UK’s green and resilient recovery from coronavirus. The Scotch whisky industry supports 40,000 jobs across the UK, with more than 10,000 people directly employed in Scotland. With 7,000 of these jobs in rural Scottish areas, today’s funding will drive forward support for net-zero innovation in some geographically remote parts of the UK, creating more jobs and skills and providing opportunities for distilleries to develop their fuel transportation and storage technologies.
Dagmar Droogsma, Director of Industry at the Scotch Whisky Association, added: “The Green Distilleries Fund is an important step on the industry’s journey towards net-zero. It will help the industry test new technologies, like hydrogen, which can be rolled out at scale in future years and enable Scotch Whisky to further drive down emissions and protect the natural environment. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow this year, the Scotch whisky industry has ambitious plans to build on the success of the last decade when distilleries cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34%. There is more to do, but with continued support from government the Scotch whisky industry can continue to work towards a more sustainable future.”
Protium Energy Limited was successful in bidding for the above fund and leads a consortium of Highland Park Distillery, SSE Utility Solutions , Lumenion GmbH, and Adrian Wilson (Independent Consultant) to remove the kerosene fuels currently burnt at the Orkney based distillery to raise steam for the distillation process. The aim is to replace this CO2-emmitting process with a direct and highly efficient transformation of renewable energy into high temperature CO2–free process heat. The study will investigate the option of a high temperature heat store which takes electricity (when available) and stores it as heat, and then converts that heat to steam (on demand). Orkney is uniquely blessed in the UK with 120% of current electrical demand met by renewable energy sources however it also has electrical grid constraints, requiring significant levels of generation curtailment. The islands have an Active Network Management system, which is trying to get more renewable generation connected by introducing controlled loads such as EVs. It is highly likely that the addition of a multi-megawatt dispatchable load would enhance the system and facilitate even more renewable energy on the archipelago, while tapping into low priced but otherwise curtailed electricity production”.