In the 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced the Green Distilleries scheme; a £10 million research and development (R&D) funding pot to help decarbonise UK distilleries. The announcement appears to be the latest in a series of industrial fuel switching initiatives which, to date, have focused on glass, cement and chemicals production.
A common factor of industrial fuel switching initiatives such as the Green Distilleries scheme is the demand for low-carbon sources of heat (as opposed to power). Whilst the UK has made significant gains in deploying renewable electricity infrastructure, progress in decarbonising heat is currently falling short of agreed targets. Approaches such as hydrogen and biomethane, supported by domestic heat pumps, are seen as solutions to decarbonise the gas grid, although this does not necessarily address the challenges of decarbonising off-grid industries.
Many UK whisky and gin distilleries are situated in remote and off-grid locations and the geographical challenge of decarbonising heat is therefore attendant. WRM sees such attributes as a potential opportunity to evaluate fuel switching options to materials based renewables, particularly when considering the many links to primary materials producers (e.g. agriculture), and co-located primary industries (e.g. forestry), which collectively provide opportunities for technologies such as biomass or anaerobic digestion.
The fact that many rural areas accommodate local renewable power infrastructure also provides opportunity for electrification, and the prospect of high value private wire connections and/or self-generation to displace costly fuel imports mitigates the loss of tariff-based incomes (e.g. FIT). These attributes do not necessarily preclude other innovative options such as local hydrogen fuel cells which also need to be explored to understand their full potential.
Ultimately, the decision on which technology is best suited to decarbonise individual distilleries will come down to a range of local factors and considerations – many of which are set out in this WRM paper.
I’m looking forward to seeing the interest from the distilling sector, to gauging their perspective on the various technology options, and to evaluating the best fit solutions. And to those considering an application but are unsure where to start; why not get in touch to discuss your decarbonisation options?
Demonstrator led approaches such as the Green Distilleries scheme are well positioned to drive environmental change, and WRM calls on government to follow up this (and the previous fuel switching initiatives) with further sector specific support that can make big gains in decarbonising industry.
To find out more about the Green Distilleries fund, please get in touch with us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01943 468138.