Scottish whisky distillery Bunnahabhain is set to become Islay’s first distillery with a net-zero distillation process with the help of biomass.
The distillery is installing a £6.5 million (€7.7 million) biomass energy centre – powered entirely by spent malt and forest biomass (wood chips) sourced from low-value timber felled 15 miles away.
The combination of biomass sources should help promote biodiversity, as existing conifer forests are replanted with mixed hardwood and softwood.
Some peat bog that is currently planted will also be restored. Ash from the biomass fuel will then be used as a natural fertiliser for the replanted forest, creating a circular model for sustainability.
The project has been funded by AMP Clean Energy which will own, manage and operate the biomass system. It is currently being constructed by AMP’s appointed contractor and project developer, Dallol Energy, and will be operational by spring 2022.
The facility will save around 3,500 tonnes of carbon per year – a CO2 saving equivalent to the emissions of 1,800 diesel cars, which is more than the total number of vehicles based on Islay.
“This is an exciting new chapter for Bunnahabhain distillery and whisky production on Islay,” said Julian Patton, international supply chain director at Distell International, owner of the distillery.
“The Scotch Whisky Association has set a net-zero target of 2040 and a lot of work is underway by our team in pursuit of achieving this goal long before this.
“The biomass centre makes Bunnahabhain Islay’s first distillery with a net-zero distillation process and we’re extremely proud, not only of the scale of this project but the entirely locally sourced fuelling system, which supports the island’s forests and economy.”
AMP Clean Energy’s chief executive, Richard Burrell, commented: “Through our fund, develop, own and operate model, we are delighted to be supporting Distell Group to help meet its carbon reduction targets.
“The biomass energy centre being developed at Bunnahabhain is a landmark low carbon project which sets the bar for how manufacturers can reduce their Scope 1 carbon emissions, which will be key to achieving net zero.”