£3m biogas investment at Scottish whisky distillery

Balmenach whisky distillery is set to become one of Scotland’s greenest distilleries with the announcement that work has started on a £3 million biogas project to significantly reduce the site’s carbon footprint.

Inver House Distillers has commissioned a new anaerobic digestion system, which breaks down the co-products of whisky production using micro-organisms to produce clean, methane-rich biogas to power the site.

According to Balmenach, the new technology will integrate with its existing wood-pellet biomass boiler, and once complete, it is hoped that the combined system will generate enough renewable steam and electricity to meet 100% of the distillery’s energy requirements with a surplus of electrical energy supplied to the grid.

When operational in summer 2018, approximately 130m3 of whisky co-products (pot ale and spent lees) will be processed to produce 2,000m3 of biogas each day, feeding a combined heat and power engine which will supply 200kW of power and 230kW of heat.

Located near Grantown on Spey and one of Inver House Distillers’ five malt whisky plants, Balmenach is on track to produce 2 million litres of whisky for the blended Scotch market in 2018. The site is also the home of Scottish gin brand Caorunn.

As well as the benefits of reduced emissions, improved energy efficiency and reduced operational costs, Balmenach says that its use of these technologies will significantly reduce heavy goods vehicle movements from its remote location in the Spey Valley. The new system is also intended to return clean water to the nearby burn, and nutrient rich bio-solids to the land for barley farming in the Speyside region.

Martin Leonard, Inver House Distillers’ managing director, says, “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.

“It’s an exciting step in our journey and one that we know is recognised and appreciated, not just by the communities surrounding our distilleries, but by the drinkers around the world who enjoy our premium spirits.

“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.”

A team of specialist suppliers has been recruited by Inver House Distillers to deliver the new system. This includes low carbon energy engineering company Synergie Environ, specialist provider of on-site biogas plants for the food and drink industry Clearfleau, and Balcas which operates the existing biomass steam system at Balmenach.


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