£9m cash boost for UK green distilleries initiative

Whisky and spirit producers in the UK will benefit from an almost £9 million (€10.4 million) cash boost announced by the government.

The initiative, announced on 20 March, will drive forward plans to create low-carbon green distilleries. Having already received collective funding of more than £1 million (€1.16 million) to kick-start green innovation projects, 12 distilleries across Scotland and five in England can now bid for further grants of up to £3 million (€3.4 million), totalling almost £9 million (€10.4 million).

The grants will support successful distilleries to accelerate projects that decarbonise their production processes, which typically rely on fossil fuels, helping to prevent pollution equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of the city of Norwich.

In the first phase of funding, distilleries received up to £75,000 (€87,000) helping them to boost decarbonisation research and development, with schemes including these of hydrogen and biofuel boilers and geothermal energy in their production processes.

Projects that have already received funding include the Uist Distilling Company on the Isle of South Uist, using low-carbon hydrogen as a heat source; Bruichladdich Distillery developing a boiler system that emits no greenhouse gases or pollutants on the isle of Islay, and Orkney’s Highland Park Distillery using stored energy from green renewable sources that can be converted into heat on demand.

St Andrews Brewers in Glasgow received £51,547 (€59,920) to develop a combination of heat pumps, green hydrogen, and biomass at its facility. In Edinburgh, Colorado Construction and Engineering received £74,768 (€89,620) to convert waste distillery draff and pot ale into a gasification gas.

UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “From whisky and gin to rum and vodka, the UK’s distilleries are famous around the world for their innovation, and it is great to see them use this to get into the spirit of going green.

“The funding announced today will support one of our most iconic industries to go further and faster in cutting their carbon emissions and build back greener – something we can all raise a toast to.”

Whisky production directly produced around 530,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2018, with the majority of these emissions coming from the generation of heat for the distillation process. This accounts for more than 80% of the distillation industry’s fuel consumption, almost all of which is currently from fossil fuels.

Funding for the Green Distilleries competition is part of the £1 billion (€1.16 billion) Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon technologies, systems, and processes in the power, buildings, and industrial sectors.

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