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Press release: Orkney distilleries secure funding to go green with hydrogen

The Orkney Distillery (Photo credit Colin Keldie)

The Orkney Distillery (Photo credit Colin Keldie)

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) launches project with world-renowned distillery Highland Park and The Orkney Distillery to investigate green hydrogen heating as a clean fuel solution for decarbonisation in the distilling sector.

The HySpirits 2 project has received £58,781 of funding from the UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to produce a feasibility study, assessing a host of technologies that would enable the use of green hydrogen as fuel in the distilling process.

Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), HySpirits 2 brings together leading industry partners including global distilling group Edrington, owners of world-famous Highland Park distillery; and local craft distillery Orkney Distilling Ltd. Both partners have extensive sectoral knowledge and will deliver end user data inputs as well as supporting the development of a market roll-out strategy. The partnership is completed by Edinburgh Napier University, with their industrial decarbonisation team leading the pilot study design and hydrogen technology assessments. During the feasibility study, all project partners will contribute to scoping a pilot demonstration to take forward into the next phase of the project.

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.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 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.”

The grant award follows on from the first HySpirits project completed last year, which investigated the feasibility of using a hydrogen-fuelled thermal fluid heating solution to decarbonise the distilling process in The Orkney Distillery. HySpirits 2 will build on this work, broadening the investigation by assessing four different technology pathways to facilitate green hydrogen fuel-switching in the distilling sector.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

The winners of the BEIS Green Distilleries Competition were announced on Friday 8th January 2021, with 17 distilleries receiving the first phase of £10 million government funding to go green, including The Orkney Distillery and Highland Park Distillery.








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