Gov gives Islay whisky project £2.6M to fuel a greener future

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A ‘green’ whisky project to replace fuel oil with hydrogen at an Islay distillery has been awarded £2.65 million by the UK Government.

Protium Green Solutions, which is developing a system that uses hydrogen as a fuel source rather than oil in whisky production at the Bruichladdich Distillery, is one of four projects gaining a share of £11.3 million funding to help UK distilleries ditch fossil fuels and decarbonise their distilling processes.

The London-based company is working with Bruichladdich Distillery near Port Charlotte ‘to create a novel on-site fuel switching process that will replace a medium fuel oil boiler with a first-of-a-kind hydrogen boiler’, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

‘The distilleries’ sector has the potential to cut carbon emissions by half a million tonnes every year – equivalent to emissions from powering more than 60,000 homes or taking around 100,000 cars off of the road.

‘[The] new investment is a demonstration of the UK government’s continued commitment to develop new green technologies and innovations, playing a vital role in helping eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

‘And with the Scotch whisky industry supporting 40,000 jobs across the UK, including more than 10,000 people directly employed in Scotland, the funding will also create more high-skilled jobs and provide opportunities for distilleries to develop their fuel transportation and storage technologies.’

Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive Karen Betts said: ‘This funding is a welcome boost for the industry at a time when Scotch whisky companies are already working hard to reduce their emissions.

‘As a result, nearly 40  per cent of the industry’s energy is now coming from renewable sources.

‘But we know we need to go further and faster, and that’s where the Green Distilleries Competition is so critical since it supports companies in testing new technologies.’

Donald Cameron, a Scottish Conservatives MSP for the Highlands and Islands, welcomed the cash, saying: ‘This investment is designed to assist these companies in decarbonising their distillery operations, which is so important as we seek to make the industry sustainable.

‘Developing these new green technologies is vital to maintaining the world-beating profile of our Scotch whisky industry and it’s very encouraging to see an Islay distillery leading the way.’

Islay councillor Alastair Redman also welcomed the UK Government’s announcement.

‘This is a huge vote in confidence in our local economy and sends the right message about how to grow your business in a sensible and sustainable way,’ Councillor Redman said.

Mr Redman, who recently resigned as policy lead for business, regeneration and commercial development on Argyll and Bute Council, added: ‘Our many distilleries are huge employers on our island both directly and indirectly.

‘It is fantastic to see my home island’s distilleries becoming world leaders when it comes to investing in new and innovative technologies.

‘This latest innovation and financing in what is a very important part of our local economy and culture will help future-proof this vital industry.’