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Energy from whisky

08 December 2017

The installation of an anaerobic digestion plant will make Balmenach one of lowest carbon distilleries in Scotland. 

Clearfleau, a provider of on-site biogas plants for the food and beverage sector, has started work on its latest biogas plant on a distillery for Inver House at Balmenach in rural Speyside. 

The Balmenach distillery, which is almost 200 years old, has already installed a biomass boiler and when the biogas project is completed in Spring 2018 it will be one of the lowest carbon footprint distilleries in Scotland.

Snaerobic digestion (AD) can offer a cost-effective way to dispose of energy-rich residues, making use of the latent energy content from whisky co-products.  Clearfleau has already installed two plants on distillery sites in Scotland, with others in design.  The Balmenach project is the smallest digester the company has built to date, showing that the technology can be viable at different scales.

The Balmenach project will treat about 130m3 per day of whisky co-products (pot ale and spent lees). Over 2,000m3 per day of biogas will be fed to a combined heat and power (CHP) engine and will supply 200kW of power and 230kW of heat for use in the operation of the distillery site.  It will be integrated with the existing biomass boiler that already supplies renewable heat to the distillery.

In addition to clean energy, the only other outputs from the plant are cleansed water, which will be discharged into the nearby burn, and nutrient rich bio-solids that can provide fertility for the barley grown in Speyside to make whisky, a great example of the circular economy in action.  

Martin Leonard, managing director at Inverhouse Distillers, said: “Consideration for the environmental impact at each of our sites is at the heart of our business strategy. With this new investment at Balmenach we are using the very latest technology to further that commitment, working with the best partners in the business to help us achieve our environmental goals. We also hope this investment will demonstrate how low carbon manufacture and clean growth are achievable, regardless of the size, location or output of the production site.”

Craig Chapman CEO at Clearfleau, said: “The Scottish Government’s enthusiasm for investment in clean energy generation is helping to stimulate interest in biogas on food and drink production sites with high energy demand. Our AD plants are cutting fossil fuel use, helping meet energy reduction targets cutting carbon emissions and offering an attractive return on investment.”

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