Hydrogen-powered distillery to produce sustainable gin

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First-ever gin distillery to use hydrogen from renewables to produce environmentally friendly gin.

The HySpirits project has been awarded £148,600 of funding from the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to conduct a feasibility study into the development of technology to enable The Orkney Distillery to use hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise the distilling process.

The project aims to investigate the development of a thermal fluid heater system to operate with hydrogen as the combustion fuel within the distilling process. This system will remove the need to use fossil fuels such as kerosene and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), for the process.

The HySpirits study brings together three different organisations with a common drive to decarbonise energy. Led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the other partners are Orkney Distilling Ltd, the site selected for hydrogen fuel integration, and Edinburgh Napier University who will assess the distillery site and develop the hydrogen system design and specification.

Funding for the HySpirits project was awarded after successfully competing in the Industrial Fuels Switching Competition run by BEIS earlier this year, which aims to stimulate early investment in fuel switching processes and technologies.

Now in its second phase, the competition offers funding for feasibility studies looking into developing technologies to enable the use of a low-carbon fuel across industrial processes. The winners of the Industrial Fuel Switching competition were announced on Thursday 29 August by Lord Duncan, in advance of a ministerial visit to Orkney.

Lord Duncan, Climate Change Minister, said:

“Using the power of hydrogen could help cut emissions, create jobs and make industrial processes cleaner and greener, benefitting the whole economy as we work towards net zero by 2050. This innovative project from HySprits/EMEC will help our efforts to roll out hydrogen at scale by the 2030s – a crucial step towards the end of the UK’s contribution to global warming.”

Hydrogen has been identified as an alternative fuel for energy intensive industrial processes, such as distilleries. If the technology and business case detailed in the feasibility study proves viable, this offers a substantial decarbonisation opportunity for the wider industry and The Orkney Distillery could become the world’s first hydrogen fuelled distillery.

Additionally, it is hoped that the findings of this study can be replicated across the sector with the added benefit that the technology will be designed to be retrofitted into existing infrastructure.

Stephen Kemp, Director of Orkney Distilling Ltd, said:

“As we look to the future development of The Orkney Distillery and our product offering, it is essential that we innovate in order to drive a low carbon, energy efficient spirit production process. This collaboration with EMEC and Edinburgh Napier University is incredibly exciting, and a world first for the industry.

Jon Clipsham, Hydrogen Manager at EMEC, said:

“Working with a world class craft distillery, the HySpirits project blends tradition with innovation. Decarbonising the distilling process with green hydrogen derived from local renewables is a great example of the creative ways Orkney is addressing the challenges of the energy transition. We’re proud to be partnering with Orkney Distilling Ltd and Edinburgh Napier University on this transformational project.”

Professor John Currie, Director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, said:

“Industrial fuel switching, in order to lower carbon emissions, provides a significant challenge, particularly in the food and drink sector. This project has brought together a partnership which has enabled the development and exploitation of a readily-deployable hydrogen technology which can make a significant impact across the process industries in order to help achieve our global objectives.”

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