Scotland planning whisky-powered bio-energy plant

Neal J Leitereg's picture

Using technology that creates bio-fuel from byproducts of the whisky distilling process, Scotland has begun making plans to create a whisky-powered energy plant.

Whiskey and Scotland have a rich history that dates back centuries. Whether it is a malt, single grain or blended whiskey, chances are you have tasted the fruits of Scotland’s labor. So it comes as no surprise that Scotland has created a bio-energy plant that harnesses the byproducts of its whiskey-creating efforts, a £50m venture known as the Rothes Project.

The efforts for the creation of the bio-energy plant will be a joint collaboration between Helius Energy and the Combination of Rothes Distillers.

Current plans include the building of a plant by 2013 at Rothes in Speyside, an area located near the river valley of the River Spey in Scotland and an ideal location given the wealth of single malt distilleries located in the region.

Of the 100 whisky distilleries operating in Scotland, 50 are located in Speyside, and the project will receive waste products from well-known whisky suppliers such as Glenlivet, Chivas Regal, Macallan and Famous Grouse.

So, what is the magic behind the whisky-powered energy plant?

The process of converting whisky byproducts into an alternative fuel source starts with the grains used in the malting process. Spent pulpy grains, known as “daff” or “pomace,” are the main byproduct of the whisky making process and are generally discarded. Researchers believe that burning daff and woodchips has great potential as a viable energy source, and that the current venture, when completed, should generate enough electricity and heat to supply some 9,000 homes.

Sam Gardner, the climate policy officer for WWF Scotland, applauds the resourcefulness of the operation and believes it will greatly aid the country in its continued quest for renewable energy.

"From the information we have, the project looks to be a very welcome addition to Scotland's renewable industry," said Gardner. It is using waste products from our whisky industry which is eminently sensible thing to do, and is producing heat both for whisky production and for the local community. We would want to see assurances, however, that the biomass was sustainably sourced."

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

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