As industries across the globe strive to maintain a net zero emission, the latest to join the fight to keep the balance is a distillery in Scotland. Bruichladdich distillery is known for making the ‘finest whisky’ in Scotland. Now the distillery is aiming to be the first to produce a net zero whisky.
The Distilleries That Need To Produce A Net Zero Whisky
Nine distilleries in Islay alone burn 15 million liters of fossil fuel each year that adds considerably to the highest carbon dioxide emission per capita for any Scottish community. Producing a net zero whisky under such circumstances is going to be difficult.
It is a tough fight for the industry to maintain the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Like other neighboring distilleries, the company is facing a significant problem like the 164 other distilleries in the neighborhood of Scotland to produce the first cask of net zero whisky.
The industry relies heavily on fuel oil for their boilers, which is brought in of ferries transported in diesel guzzling ferries.
Bruichladdich is the first off the mark in producing net zero whisky by opting for a pioneering type of environmentally friendly hydrogen. It is produced with the help of water electrolysis and green electricity. This could be a huge improvement over the conventional process of using natural gas that emits greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide.
It is at present relying on a government-supported green tariff, a structure that allows them to access clean power more easily. This will help them advance their overall clean energy goals and contribute to a reduction in emissions.
But the company plans to continue with its efforts to produce net zero whisky through renewables installed all over the island in the coming years. Wind and tidal power are the two alternatives being considered at the moment.
The target for producing net zero whisky has been set for 2025 for its distillation process. The other processes, such as the production of the hot mash, to create the wort, and malted barley are set to follow.
Chief Executive of Bruichladdich, Douglas Taylor, says that the technique would help power the other distillers, homes, and other businesses in Scotland once it is successful.
Taylor says that they need to start immediately, even though it might be a small step. Somebody has to be the first off the mark and take a courageous and bold step. He says that the industry needs to begin with what they have.
Whisky As The Biggest Export
Whisky remains the UK’s biggest export, and brought in close to $6.9 billion in 2019, though the industry has relied on burning gas for decades. The remoter areas use fuel oil. The industry is also aware that variations brought about by climate change such as unseasonal rains and drought affect the supply of water and the harvest of Scottish barley. Flooding also remains a threat and could hit transport and the distilleries.
The whisky industry has targeted 2040 as its cut of date for net zero whisky production. That is a decade earlier than the goal of the UK government and also five years before Scotland’s.
Several major distilleries have moved to the use of draff, a byproduct in the production of whisky, to initiate anaerobic digestion. Other options being explored include biomass boilers, and even more effective gas boilers.
Diageo, the largest producer in Scotland, moved to set up a 4-megawatt solar farm close to its Fife packaging plant. The farm uses 12,000 panels.
Some distilleries have open with the target of producing net zero whiskies right from the start. Boutique distillery Mc’Nean, which produces organic whisky, earned the distinction of being the first net zero distilleries in the UK. They installed a costly biomass boiler that is fueled by wood chips from a plantation nearby.
The technique to produce hydrogen has been developed by Protium, an energy firm based in London. The technology has been obtained from the US and has received over $100,000 from the government. The government also has committed over $13.8M for research to help the whisky and other spirit industries in the UK.
Taylor believes that the steps that Bruichladdich has taken for net zero whisky will benefit the entire island and the whisky industry. It would help other businesses on the island and the whole community, he feels.