Another Scottish distillery goes green with GIB funding

The environmental credentials of the Scottish drinks industry have been given a further uplift with financial support being given to help another large distillery reduce its carbon emissions.

The Green Investment Bank (GIB) is putting forward £5m of funding for the Balmenach distillery in Speyside, which will support the installation of a new biomass boiler to replace the original heavy fuel oil boiler.

Balmenach is expecting to see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 5,000 t CO2e per year – the equivalent to taking over 2,200 cars off the road. More than 18,000MWh of heat will be produced each year, meeting all of the distillery’s heating needs and contributing to a 30% reduction in energy costs.

This follows similar GIB investments in Scotland; for the installation of biomass boilers at the Aberfeldy Distillery in Perthshire and the Tomatin Distillery near Inverness – the latter of which has since slashed its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and significantly reduced its fuel costs.

The GIB’s group operations director Rob Cormie said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to make another investment at a Scottish distillery, just a few weeks after we announced that we were making £5m available to fund these investments.

“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.”

Important export

Balmenach traces its origins back to 1824, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Speyside. The new, 4MW biomass boiler will be used to produce the steam necessary for the whisky production processes; providing cost-effective renewable energy with limited up-front capital investment.

Highland MP Danny Alexander said: “I am hugely proud of the benefits the Highlands has seen from the Green Investment Bank so far.

“This latest investment will give a welcome boost to our most important export industry. With continued investment in Highland distillers we can ensure that while the quality of the product remains high, the carbon footprint of production is low.

“I look forward to seeing the GIB take on even more investments in the Highlands over the coming months and years.”

The Green Investment Bank, which was established in 2012, made a pre-tax loss of £5.74m in 2013/14, but the majority of its investments (88%) are still under construction. 

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie