Distilleries in Orkney to Investigate Utilising Green Hydrogen Fuel

Highland Park Distillery and The Orkney Distillery, are to investigate how to use green hydrogen as a fuel in the distilling process. They have been successful in getting £58,781 of funding from the UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The HySpirits 2 project will produce a feasibility study, assessing a host of technologies that would enable the use of green hydrogen as fuel. 

The project will be led by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre).

James Walker, Hydrogen Manager at EMEC, said:

“HySpirits 2 is a really exciting project, offering us the opportunity to evaluate innovative applications for green hydrogen in the decarbonisation of distilling, which is a sector of great importance to the economy in Scotland, and within Orkney.

“Hydrogen offers a potentially very compelling alternative fuel for producing high grade heat in industry. With many distilleries located in remote areas off the natural gas network and using fuel oils to generate process heat for malting and distilling, there is great scope for applying the findings from our project to a cross section of the wider industry.

“We look forward to working with Highland Park and Orkney Distilling Ltd, building on learnings from our first HySpirits project, to continue to support decarbonisation in the distilling sector.” 

At the 2020 Sustainable Orkney Conference, which due to Covid was online, the significant issues in transitioning particularly in traditional businesses and buildings was highlighted.

The Challenge of Energy Use in Traditional Industrial Buildings

HySpirits2 led by EMEC will involve Edrington (owners of Highland Park Distillery), Orkney Distilling Ltd, and Napier University, Edinburgh. It builds on work from last year which investigated the feasibility of using a hydrogen-fuelled thermal fluid heating solution to decarbonise the distilling process in The Orkney Distillery. A World First For The Orkney Distillery

Stephen Kemp, Director of Orkney Distilling Limited, said:

“Orcadians have been at the forefront of energy innovation now for generations, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this further Orcadian collaboration which will serve to strengthen connections between EMEC’s ground-breaking green hydrogen development and the local distillery sector.”

Funding for the project was awarded through the BEIS Green Distilleries Competition, a £10 million fund aiming to help UK distilleries decarbonise through innovative fuel switching projects, including those focusing on low carbon fuels such as hydrogen. Phase 1 of the competition focuses on technology feasibility whilst Phase 2 of the programme will target real world technology demonstration for selected projects.

The technologies to be assessed within the project include; thermal fluid technology, steam technology, direct burn technology and dual fuel technology. Following assessment, the optimal technology pathway will be selected and used by the consortium to design a demonstration project to be considered for Phase 2 funding to prove the solution in a real-world context. 

Jason R. Craig, Global Brand Director at Highland Park, said:

“The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to a range of challenging measures and targets to become Net Zero by 2040, so we are really pleased to be part of this exciting collaboration with EMEC in Orkney.”

The winners of the BEIS Green Distilleries Competition were announced on Friday 8th January 2021. 17 distilleries shared in the first phase of £10 million UK government funding to go green.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the UK Government said that the fund will allow distilleries to lead the way by making their production cleaner ‘while also creating jobs’.

Professor John Currie, Director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“Industrial fuel switching, in order to lower carbon emissions, provides a significant challenge, particularly in the food and drink sector. This project brings together a partnership which will focus on assessing a range of viable technology options that give the greatest emissions reductions for distillers. Ensuring commercial viability through to a fully sustainable end product will lay the path towards the future of green distilling.”

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