Now third Scots whisky distiller goes green with new biomass boiler

Balmenach distilleryThe Balmenach Distillery in Speyside has become the third Scottish distillery to go ‘green’ with a new biomass boiler replacing its traditional heavy fuel-oil boiler.

Two other distilleries, Tomatin (near Inverness) and Aberfeldy (in Perthshire) have already completed similar conversions and Tomatin Distillery has now reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by around 80% and significantly cut its fuel costs.

As the Balmenach distillery is not on the national grid, it previously had no choice but to use a fuel-oil boiler for boiling the grain and distilling the spirits.

The new boiler will reduce the distillery’s energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions, providing cost-effective renewable energy with limited up-front capital investment. The boiler will be used to produce steam necessary for the whisky production processes.

 The distillery traces its origins back to 1824, making it one of the oldest in Speyside. The distillery was shut down in 1993, but was bought in 1998 by Inver House Distillers Group, which is owned by ThaiBev, a leading Asian drinks business. The premium gin brand, Caorunn, is also produced at Balmenach as well as its Old Pulteney malt.

Funding for the £5 million investment has been provided by the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank and Rob Cormie, Group Operations Director, said: “Projects like this provide a sustainable supply of renewable energy and save distilleries money and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. With limited capital investment, distilleries can save money from day one whilst also helping to meet the industry’s ambitious green targets.”

Operational data

Energy generation: 18,000MWh heat will be produced each year, meeting all of the distillery’s heating needs. 

Feedstock: Sustainably sourced wood pellet fuel. The pellets are manufactured by Balcas using renewable energy and raw materials sourced from local, sustainably managed forests at their plant at Invergordon. The pellets are provided by Balcas as part of the project, so the distillery does not need to pay for these separately. 

Cost saving: Up to 30% reduction in energy costs.

Boiler capacity: 4 MW

Boiler manufacturer: Vyncke

Installation: Work has begun on site and the boiler is being manufactured.

Expected Commission date: Q1 2015

Developer: Based at Invergordon, Ross-shire, Balcas is the largest manufacturer of wood pellet fuel in the British Isles.  

Operations and maintenance: Balcas

Ernest Kidney, Managing Director, Balcas commented: “Balmenach is the third distillery to opt for our renewable biomass steam boiler and we are pleased to say that there has been significant interest from other distilleries, as well as industrial and commercial organisations, who want to cut their carbon emissions by up to 90% and make immediate cost savings.”

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