Green Distilleries Competition set to move to second phase


Feasibility studies funded through the first round of the government’s Green Distilleries Competition have been published.

In January, 17 distilleries were awarded funding – between £44,000 and £75,000 – to complete a feasibility study on proposed green solutions, which included hydrogen, biofuel boilers and geothermal energy within their production processes. The studies mark the first phase of a £10mn competition driven by the idea that the UK’s distilleries – which grew by 20% in 2019 – can be “at the heart” of a green, resilient recovery from Covid-19.

Environmental Resources Management (ERM) found liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC) to be a viable option for transporting, storing and delivering hydrogen to a distillery for heat production. It wants to conduct a demonstration trial for the technology to prove itself under real-world conditions. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), leading the HySpirits 2 project, concluded dual fuelling burner systems as the most appropriate way of deploying green hydrogen to decarbonise distilling. This is as it allows fuel flexibility during the broader energy system transition to widespread hydrogen use.

John Fergus & Co with Arup adjudged decarbonising InchDairnie distillery with hydrogen, either produced onsite or imported through larger-scale local suppliers, to be technically feasible. A transitional model was found to be most successful, limiting costs in phase 2, which will see a system design including solar PV electrolysis and biomethane pipeline. The site could potentially be “significantly carbon negative” by 2030.

Locogen and Logan Energy investigated the techno-economic feasibility of converting an operational distillery – Arbikie Highland Estate – that uses gas oil for distillation to hydrogen. It found converting it to use green hydrogen produced onsite from electrolysis from wind and solar to be “relatively simple” and, as most operational distilleries have similar systems, “readily replicable” as well. Colorado Construction & Engineering examined using hydrogen and biofuel burners for decarbonised power in distilleries, proposing bio oils are used for distillery heat with hydrogen in a two stage burner, when hydrogen is available at a competitive cost.

Protium, Deuterium, Bruichaladdich Distillery and ITPEnergised provided a technically feasible, commercially robust, accelerated configuration for deploying Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC) technology and associated electrolysers and storage at Bruichaladdich by the end of 2021. The technology sees hydrogen and oxygen combusted in a burner with little or no radiant heat at around 2,800°C before being provided to the boiler through an electrolyser. The demonstration project set for phase 2 could cut emissions by 15% with the potential for this to rise to 100%, once fully scaled.

Supercritical Solutions assessed switching to zero emission hydrogen from LPG at the Ardmore Distillery, finding it would reduce CO2e by 615g per litre of whisky. Producing, storing and consuming hydrogen onsite could be cost neutral with LPG by the end of the decade and cost neutral with natural gas by 2040. Locogen and Logan Energy also explored using hydrogen to heat thermal oil to replace steam in the distillation process, using Benbecula Distillery as a real world test case. The solution would see the distillery supplied with a zero carbon fuel with hydrogen produced offsite and power purchased from existing operational windfarms. It could save 874tCO2 per year for the distillery and over 26,500tCO2 over 25 years.