10 Green Distilleries Hydrogen Feasibility Studies Announced.

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.

The successful distilleries will receive between £44,000 and £75,000 in the first phase of funding, helping them boost decarbonisation research and development, with schemes including the use of hydrogen and biofuel boilers and geothermal energy in their production processes.

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.”

The 17 Green Distilleries feasibility studies were selected from a very large number of applications. 10 studies involve hydrogen and are supported by 10 of our SHFCA members including Adrian Wilson, Arup, Edinburgh Napier University, ERM, European Marine Energy Centre, Heriot Watt University, Locogen, Protium Energy, Protium Green Solutions, and SSE:

1. Highland Park GreenStills Demonstrator Led by Edrington with Allen Associates, this project will investigate High Temperature Heat Pumps (HTHP) for converting low-grade heat into steam for use in a variety of distillery applications. They have the benefit of improving overall energy efficiency as well as enabling fuel switching to renewable electricity from fossil fuels.

2. Decarbonising the InchDairnie Distillery This project, led by John Fergus & Co Ltd alongside Arup, will specifically focus on the potential to use hydrogen at the distillery to significantly decarbonise the process heat required. The hydrogen could be produced two ways, by converting the gas generated at the local AD plant to hydrogen onsite and through electrolysis of local renewables onsite.

3. Using hydrogen to heat thermal oil to replace steam in the distillation process This project by the Uist Distilling Company Ltd. will consider the opportunity for a new distillery to be designed as low carbon from the outset by running the distillery through a combination of a hydrogen burner and indirect heating of a thermal oil rather than conventional steam.

4. Using a high temperature heat store to overcome highly constrained grid infrastructure This project by the Uist Distilling Company Ltd. considers the opportunity for a new build distillery to be run via an electrically driven high temperature heat store as opposed to the counterfactual case of fossil fuel based oil burners.

5. Decarbonising the distillation process via direct fuel switching from fossil fuels to hydrogen This project with Locogen Ltd. will assess the feasibility of switching an operational distillery from fuel oil to hydrogen burners that provide direct process heat for distillation. Direct combustion of the hydrogen in burners would involve the retrofit of the fuel distribution and boiler systems within the distillery, whilst the option of creating hydrogen offsite and transporting onsite will also be investigated.

6. Large Scale Phase Change Material Thermal Storage This project led by Sunamp with support from Heriot Watt University. will demonstrate how Phase Change Material (PCM) thermal storage offer distilleries, both old and new, a safe and resilient pathway of fuel switching to zero and low carbon renewable technology as their main method of heat generation.

7. Use of Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) for Decarbonizing the UK Distillery Industry. The objective of this project by ERM will be to determine the viability of using LOHC for decarbonising the distillery industry and outline a plan to demonstrate its technical performance, environmental, health and safety credentials and lifecycle cost.

8. WhiskHy This project led by Supercritical Solutions Ltd. using their electrolysis system will evaluate efficiency cost with renewable power supported by waste heat from the partner distillery.

9. Geothermal Distillery and Tropical Cask Maturation Facility Led by the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) alongside industrial partners Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL), Buro Happold and Forsyths, this project aims to demonstrate a cost effective high-temperature heat pump solution, capable of powering heat intensive distillery processes utilising low grade waste industrial heat sources.

10. Super-Green, High Temperature Heat Pump For Distillery Electrification Vytok Ltd will evaluate potential for innovative heat pump using pure water as the working fluid to allow distilleries to switch from fossil fuels to electricity and decarbonise the distilling process.

11. HySpirits 2 This project is led by the European Marine Energy Centre alongside research partner Napier University and industrial partners Edrington, and Orkney Distilling Limited, and will deliver the world’s first hydrogen fuelled distillery; demonstrating that fuel switching to clean green solutions can be achieved anywhere.

12. Hy/BioDDP: Hydrogen/Biofuel burners for Distillery Decarbonised Power Colorado Construction & Engineering Ltd. are leading this project on developing dual fuel hydrogen/natural gas burners that can be co-fired with biofuels. Tri-fuel operation on hydrogen, NG and biofuels will be possible in the transition to 100% hydrogen fuel with 100% decarbonisation.

13. BatGasDW: Batch Gasification of Distillery Waste Biomass for renewable distillery fuel Led by Colorado Construction & Engineering Ltd, burner manufacturer CBS Ltd, and research partner University of Leeds. Waste distillery biomass will be batch gasified in a novel medium temperature gasifier that avoids tar formation. The hot gasifier gas will be transferred to a newly developed burner for heating of both steam and direct fired distilleries.

14. The Bennamann-Atlantic Fugitive Methane Green Distillery Solution This project with Bennamann Ltd. and Atlantic Distillery will investigate the benefits of switching fuel to carbon negative fugitive methane captured from covered slurry-lagoon anaerobic digestors, creating a closed-energy loop between energy provider and user.

15. Two Stage Distillation via Renewably Powered Heat Pump & Hydrogen The St Andrews Brewery at Guardbridge will evaluate feasibility of green Hydrogen from renewable electricity produced on site to raise the steam required for the second stage of the heat exchangers.

16. Project HyLaddie The HyLaddie project will assess the feasibility of deploying a hydrogen steam boiler system at the Bruichladdich Distillery, with support from Protium Green Solutions and ITPEnergised on using a condensing oxy-combustion boiler that combusts hydrogen to generate industrial grade steam to help Bruichladdich’s Distillery meet its 2025 net zero emissions target.

17. Orkney Highland Park Energy System A consortium of Highland Park Distillery, SSE Utility Solutions , Lumenion GmbH, Adrian Wilson (Independent Consultant) led by Protium Energy Ltd 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).

The Green Distilleries competition is split into 2 phases, with Phase 1 of the competition providing up to £500,000 in funding for feasibility studies looking into developing technologies that enable the use of a low carbon fuel in a distillery. Phase 2 of the Green Distilleries competition will consider applications to pilot key components or further develop the design of the new fuel switching solutions.

To find out more visit Green distilleries competition page.