New funding awarded to four UK distilleries to support spirits’ industry plans to develop innovative low-carbon technologies

Four UK distilleries have today won a share of £11m of government funding to support the development of green and energy efficient distilling processes.

The winners of the Green Distilleries Competition announced today were selected from 17 distillery projects across the UK and will now progress to phase 2 of the funding competition, which aims to catalyse the development of low-carbon technologies.

The multi-million-pound investment aims to help whisky and spirit producers switch from fossil fuels to low-carbon heating systems, such as green hydrogen and biogas, in a bid to slash the sector’s contribution to climate change.

According to today’s announcement from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the whisky industry has the potential to halve carbon emissions in the coming years, equivalent to taking around 100,000 cars off the road.

“From London to Livingston, the UK is home to some of the world’s best-loved drinks and the Green Distilleries Competition is supporting producers in this iconic industry to go further and faster in cutting carbon emissions as we build back greener,” said Energy Minister Greg Hands. “We have been at the forefront of the push to tackle climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow and today’s announcement is a key part of that. UK industry continues to lead the world in its innovation and commitment to meeting the challenges of tackling climate change head on. That’s certainly something worth raising a toast to.”

In the first phase of the competition, BEIS awarded £75,000 to 17 decarbonisation projects to accelerate research and development. Four of these have now been selected as winners of the £11m Phase 2 funding.

One of the winners, clean-tech start-up Supercritical Solutions, is developing a novel high-pressure electrolyser to generate green hydrogen as a feedstock for the distilling process with whisky producers Beam Suntory at its distillery in Aberdeenshire.

Matt Bird, CEO at Supercritical, said: “Our collaboration with Beam Suntory and the Manufacturing Technology Centre will help advance the world’s first high-pressure, ultra-efficient electrolyser technology for the production of zero emission hydrogen, helping to decarbonise the whisky industry whilst setting an example for other hard-to-decarbonise sectors.”

Meanwhile, Protium Green Solutions and Locogen Ltd are similarly partnering with Scottish distilleries to develop a number of hydrogen-based technologies, and Colorado Construction and Engineering is developing a biofuel batch-gasification system for use by distilleries.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary of State said: “It’s fitting that this announcement comes just before St Andrew’s Day when Scotland’s most famous product will be celebrated around the globe.

“Scotland’s whisky industry has a proud heritage and is taking massive steps to embrace innovative technologies that will make production greener and cleaner. UK government investment like this will help secure the future of the sector and the highly-skilled jobs it supports.”

Today’s funding is also expected to create more jobs in the sector and inject money into developing fuel transportation and storage technologies. The Scotch whisky industry already supports 40,000 jobs across the UK.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, welcomed the investment and said that the results of the competition can be shared across the sector to help more companies work to reduce their emissions. “This is exactly the sort of industry-government partnership that will help us to secure a sustainable future for Scotch Whisky and for the communities across Scotland within which we work,” she said.

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