This Christmas, it seems appropriate to be sharing a festive dram with the team, toasting the success of one of our projects which is making Scotland’s malt whisky industry greener and more sustainable.
In 2015 we completed an on-site biogas plant for Diageo at its Glendullan distillery on Speyside, demonstrating how the whisky sector can embrace the circular economy. For three years the plant has been both cutting the site’s carbon footprint and reducing its costs.
The facility also receives distillation co-products (pot ale and spent lees) from other Diageo distilleries in the Dufftown area. Some of this is fed to the plant through a dedicated pipeline, reducing local truck movements for further environmental benefit.
Based on three years of operation, the Glendullan bio-energy plant is:
• Delivering a 25% reduction in fossil fuel energy demand
• Generating over 1 million m3 of biogas per year
• Delivering over 6,000 MWh heat energy per year
• Processing 1,000m3 of co-products per day
• Saving over 1,000 tonnes of carbon per year
• Cutting about 15 truck journeys per day
Our on-site liquid AD technology converts a range of co-products into biogas that is fed to a biogas boiler to supply renewable heat, used directly in the distillation process. The only other outputs are cleansed water that is discharged safely into the adjacent River Fiddich, and nutrients (or bio-solids) applied to farmland that grows barley that is harvested to supply grain used in the distillery.
The Glendullan plant is a practical example of improved resource use in a more circular economy. It also is making effective use of the energy in these liquid residues, with heat generated and used where it is needed.
Engineering challenges involved developing a plant that was able to handle higher strength materials such as pot ale, as well as variability in strength and volume of feedstocks being fed to it. They also included the sensitive location of the plant in a valley adjacent to the River Fiddich and achieving the required water course discharge standards.
New opportunities ahead
As industry increasingly recognises the benefits of embracing the circular economy, we see opportunities like this growing throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
In 2019 we will start work on new brewery and dairy projects. Our technology can also be applied on smaller sites – Clearfleau has developed a cost-effective modular design for SME sites and we will be building plants in 2019 for a ready meal company and craft distillery.
We are also excited about export opportunities. Targets in Europe include distilleries in Ireland and dairy companies in Germany and Estonia, as well as projects further afield.
We think whisky with a greener tinge tastes all the better for it. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and sustainable New Year!