Scotch Whisky supplier embarks on £45m electric heat and biomass innovation scheme

The business is collaborating with AMP Clean Energy on the project, which will cost some £45m and reduce its annual carbon footprint by around 25,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to 55% of Simpsons Malt’s Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions.

Simpsons Malt will install a high-voltage electrical boiler on its site. It will be powered using local wind turbines, using energy that would otherwise need to be wasted during periods of high winds.

It has been estimated that, between 2019 and 2021, the UK wasted around £1.5bn of renewable electricity due to a lack of energy storage infrastructure. This means that, at times of high generation but low demand, wind farms are often curtailed.

The project at Simpsons Malt will mark the first time that high-voltage electrical heating has been used for industrial processes in the UK’s private sector.

When the electric boiler is not in use, the business will use a biomass-fuelled boiler. Biomass for the boiler will be locally sourced and AMP Clean Energy has pledged to only use “low-value” wood chips from “previously under-managed” areas.

AMP Clean Energy’s chief executive Mark Tarry said the project, which will be complete in the summer of 2024, could be replicated in other industries.

“As a result [of this project], the malt that leaves our Tweed Valley Maltings – 90% of which is destined for the distilling industry – will have a significantly reduced carbon footprint, helping our distilling customers deliver on their own sustainability objectives while also positively impacting the sector as a whole,” said Simpsons Malt’s operations director Steven Rowley.

Back in 2021, the UK Government provided its first round of funding for distilleries in Scotland to adopt biomass and hydrogen. At that time, around 40% of the Scotch Whisky industry’s energy use was being met with renewable sources. The industry is forging ahead with plans to develop, scale and use its own green hydrogen hub.

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