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Distillery looks to green hydrogen to produce gin

By Staff Reporter

The Orkney Distillery (Photo credit Orkney Distilling Ltd)
The Orkney Distillery (Photo credit Orkney Distilling Ltd)

Gin makers in Orkney could be raising their glasses to a world first after a project to look into using hydrogen to power a distillery won funding.

The HySpirits study will undertake a feasibility study into the development of technology to enable Orkney Distillery to use hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise the distilling process.

It was awarded £148,600 from the Industrial Fuels Switching Competition run by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which aims to stimulate early investment in fuel-switching processes and technologies.

The project is being led by the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in partnership with Orkney Distilling Ltd and Edinburgh Napier University.

The winners of the competition were announced by Lord Ian Duncan, the UK's Climate Change Minister. He 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. EMEC said that if the technology and business case detailed in the feasibility study proves viable, it would offer a substantial decarbonisation opportunity for the wider industry and Orkney Distillery could become the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled distillery.

Stills inside The Orkney Distillery (credit Orkney Distilling Ltd)
Stills inside The Orkney Distillery (credit Orkney Distilling Ltd)

Stephen Kemp, director of Orkney Distilling Ltd, said: “As we look to the future development of 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.”

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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