It is the spirit that powers the Scottish economy, and now whisky is to be used to create electricity for homes in a new bioenergy venture involving some of Scotland’s best-known distilleries.
Contracts have recently been awarded for the construction of a biomass combined heat and power plant at Rothes in Speyside that by 2013 will use the by-products of the whisky-making process for energy production.
Vast amounts of “draff”, the spent grains used in the distilling process, and pot ale, a residue from the copper stills, are produced by the whisky industry each year and are usually transported off-site. The Rothes project, a joint venture between Helius Energy and the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) will burn the draff with woodchips to generate enough electricity to supply 9,000 homes. It will be supplied by Aalborg Energie Technick, a danish engineering company. The pot ale will be made into a concentrated organic fertiliser and an animal feed for use by local farmers…
The £50m Rothes project is the latest bioenergy venture from the Scotch whisky industry, but it is believed to be the first to provide electricity for public use. A bioenergy plant at Scotland’s largest distillery in Fife is close to completion. The project by Diageo will provide 98% of the thermal steam and 80% of the electrical power used at the Cameronbridge distillery. And last year, scientists at Napier University announced they had developed a method of producing biofuel from the by-products of the whisky distilling process which could power cars and even aircraft. The new fuel, they said, could be available at petrol pumps within a few years.
Of Scotland’s 100 whisky distilleries, 50 are based in Speyside, and Frank Burns, general manager of CoRD, said it was an ideal location for the new bioenergy plant which will be built on an existing industrial site.
“It is very well supported in the local community. Up here in Rothes and in Speyside in general we have a lot of strong links,” he said. “We had zero objections at the planning stage and we have done a lot of work within the community on the progress of the project.”
Waste products from around 16 of the area’s 50 distilleries will be used at the site, including well-known brands such as Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Macallan, and Famous Grouse. None will come from further than 25 miles away.
There are only a few environmental organizations apparently seeking for some reason to oppose this Green recycling project are those whose religion is tied to the Old Testament version of “only local is any good”. This may be a dicho that helps carry council elections – though I doubt that – and ignores the more requirement of sustainable production in the first place.
Poisonally, I welcome the growth of projects like this. I’ve blogged about them in the past. Like the folks at the Rocky Mountain Institute, I try to support Green projects which also save people money – not limiting progress to expensive ideology.