Two Orkney distilleries are to take part in a £58,781 research project to further investigate the use of “green” hydrogen heating as part of a government initiative to find ways of decarbonising the distilling sector.
The study, at Highland Park and The Orkney Distillery, in Kirkwall, will be led by the Stromness-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec), along with industrial decarbonisation experts from Edinburgh’s Napier University.
Funding for the project was awarded through the £10 million Green Distilleries Competition, run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, aimed at helping companies switch from using fuel oils to lower carbon alternatives to generate heat for processes such as malting and distilling.
Awards for 17 projects in the first phase of the scheme were announced last week.
The HySpirits 2 initiative in Kirkwall follows research completed last year by Emec at The Orkney Distillery, which investigated the feasibility of using a hydrogen-fuelled thermal fluid heating system there.
Emec hydrogen manager James Walker said: “HySpirits 2 is a really exciting project, offering us the opportunity to evaluate innovative applications for green hydrogen in the decarbonisation of distilling, which is a sector of great importance to the economy in Scotland, and within Orkney.
“Hydrogen offers a potentially very compelling alternative fuel for producing high grade heat in industry.
“With many distilleries located in remote areas off the natural gas network and using fuel oils to generate process heat for malting and distilling, there is great scope for applying the findings from our project to a cross-section of the wider industry.
John Currie, director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Napier University, said industrial fuel switching presented a “significant challenge,” in the food and drink sector.
He added: “This project brings together a partnership which will focus on assessing a range of viable technology options that give the greatest emissions reductions for distillers.
“Ensuring commercial viability through to a fully sustainable end product will lay the path towards the future of green distilling.”
Orkney Distilling director Stephen Kemp said: “Orcadians have been at the forefront of energy innovation now for generations, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this further Orcadian collaboration.
“It will serve to strengthen connections between Emec’s ground-breaking green hydrogen development and the local distillery sector.”