Scotland: New biomass centre produces net zero scotch whiskey

The-new-Energy-Biomass-Centre. Credit Bunnahabhain

Bunnahabhain is on-track to become the first whiskey distillery to have a net zero emission distillation process on the Scottish island of Islay.

The announcement follows the installation of a biomass energy centre that is powered by forest biomass sourced only 15 miles away, as well as spent malt, a by-product of distillation known as draff.

The biomass facility will save approximately 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.

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Julian Patton, International Supply Chain Director at Distell International, owner of Bunnahabhain Distillery, said: “This is an exciting new chapter for Bunnahabhain distillery and whisky production on Islay. 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 the project but the entirely locally sourced fuelling system, which supports the island’s forests and economy.”

The £6.5 million ($9 million) project was funded by AMP Clean Energy who will own, manage and operate the biomass system and will be operational by Spring 2022.

According to Bunnahabhain, the combination of wood chippings from low value timber felled on Islay and spent malt helps to nurture the island’s forests and promote biodiversity, as existing conifer forests are replanted with mixed hardwood and softwood.

Furthermore, ash from the nutrient rich biomass fuel will be used as natural fertiliser for the replanted forest, creating a circular model for sustainability.

Richard Burrell, Chief Executive of AMP Clean Energy, said: “…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 One Carbon emissions, which will be key to achieving Net Zero.”

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