Scotland’s hydrogen strategy – green Scotch
The UK is working toward net zero emissions by 2050, and Scotland’s goal is to achieve net zero by 2045. As Scotland’s whisky industry produces nearly 400 million litres of whisky annually and accounts for an estimated 2.6% of Scotland’s total CO2 emissions, it is critical that they find a green alternative. Fortunately, Scotland is benefiting significantly from their already established renewable energy infrastructure, which supplies 93% of Scotland’s electricity, and the whisky industry has several green hydrogen projects underway.
The Green Distilleries Competition
In 2020, the UK government launched the Green Distilleries Competition, offering a total of £10 million to whisky distilleries for the research and development of decarbonisation strategies. Scottish distilleries are working hard to decarbonise, employing a range of methods such as using process by-products for biofuel, employing efficient heat energy technology, and using electric and rail transport. So far, 11 of Scotland’s 17 distilleries have received funding to decarbonise their processes.
As many Scotch distilleries are found along the Scottish coast, there is great potential for renewable energy generation in the form of wind, wave, and tidal power. Combined with their remote locations and high energy demand, distilleries make an ideal candidate for the feasibility testing of hydrogen technology to validate Scotland’s hydrogen strategy.
North of Scotland Hydrogen Scheme
ScottishPower and Pale Blue Dot Energy are working with several prominent UK distilleries to set up a hydrogen hub in Cromarty Firth as part of the North of Scotland Hydrogen Scheme. The goal of the project is for ScottishPower and Pale Blue Dot Energy to supply Glenmorangie, Whyte & Mackay, and Diageo with green energy to fuel their heating systems so they no longer have to rely on fossil fuels.
The project will use wind power generated on the Cromarty Firth coast to power electrolysis processes, producing totally clean energy in the form of hydrogen. This is a big step towards establishing the region as a hydrogen supplier for the surrounding region.
Surf ‘n’ turf and HySpirits
The island of Orkney produces a surplus of renewable wind and tidal energy, which they are using to produce green hydrogen as part of project Surf ‘n’ Turf.
Additionally, as part of the Green Distilleries Competition, Orkney Distilling Ltd is now in the second phase of their HySpirits project. They are utilising green hydrogen production expertise from the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and industrial decarbonisation knowledge from the Edinburgh Napier University to move the Edrington distilling group to a totally green hydrogen powered facility.
Project HyLaddie on the Island of Islay will also involve converting the current fuel oil heating system to a hydrogen powered dynamic combustion chamber provided by Deuterium Heating technologies. The project will be managed by Protium and ITPEnergised, who will facilitate retrofitting the centuries old authentic Victorian equipment with energy efficient hydrogen tech. This will ensure the green transition is successful while still upholding the traditional Bruichladdich distilling authenticity.
Not green label whisky, green hydrogen whisky
Several other distilleries including Benbecula and Inverkeilor will be working with the hydrogen technology group Logan Energy to install hydrogen powered heating systems for distilling process. These changes not only mean a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but will also provide cost savings and improvements in safety and process efficiency over traditional thermal oil heating processes.
Locogen (also working with Logan Energy) will be investigating the production of hydrogen on-site, providing them with an independent source of hydrogen and an additional revenue stream selling any excess hydrogen produced. This is a key aspect of Scotland’s strategy to become a major green hydrogen supplier in the future. As Locogen CEO, Andy Lyle said: “These projects combine the best of traditional skills and methods with innovative technologies to make the country’s national drink even more palatable. It seems that ‘guid auld Scotch drink’ has a great future in the new zero-carbon economy.”
Scotland’s distilleries are providing ideal flagship projects for industrial applications of hydrogen technology, as part of Scotland’s hydrogen strategy. Hopefully this will pave the way for further industrial hydrogen applications and also mean that even if you don’t drink responsibly, you can drink sustainably. So if you really care about the environment, drink Scotch.