Decarbonisation of industry has become a major topic in Europe in the last few years and even more so today with the EU’s ambition to drastically cut Russian gas imports in response to the war in Ukraine.
Spirits makers have already successfully implemented renewable energy solutions like solid biomass combustion and solar systems to produce some of the energy they need and reduce emissions. Increasing energy efficiency will also be key as even small measures to reduce energy consumption count today with the increase in energy prices.
There are two other technologies that hold significant potential to support the further decarbonisation of spirits making and a higher degree of energy self-sufficiency – anaerobic digestion and hydrogen.
A study in 2020 showed anaerobic digestion (AD) of distillery by-products can replace over 60% of the natural gas consumption of a distillery. The focus of the study was a large distillery in Ireland, but in many aspects the findings are valid or partially valid for different plants in other parts of the world.
In 2019, the Scotch Whisky Association released a report showing that hydrogen would play an important role in enabling Net Zero for the distilling sector. Just recently, ScottishPower and Storegga announced a project that would deliver up to 20 tonnes of green hydrogen per day from 2024 to displace fossil fuels in the heating processes of Scottish distilleries. The facility will be expanded later to meet greater demand.