Islay is Getting even Greener

No, it's not the grass that is turning greener all of a sudden but it's the energy landscape that is changing rapidly. After the wave power plant near Portnahaven and the tidal energy project that will be installed in the Sound of Islay, the island is again in the news for getting even greener, energy wise that is. The Times Online published a very interesting article about a way to create energy from waste that the distilleries produce. Bruichladdich Distillery is the first distillery on the island to install such a system. A quote from the article:

"The innovation is driven by several factors. One is the whisky industry’s growing concern over its product’s carbon footprint, thought to be one of the highest for any food or drink. Bruichladdich Distillery is to build an anaerobic digester to convert thousands of tons of yeasty waste into methane gas, which will be burned to make electricity. Islay is home to some of Scotland’s best-known whiskies. Seven other distilleries on the island — Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain and Kilchoman — are understood to be considering similar schemes. On Islay, there is also the environmental impact of the many tons of distillery waste, which is disposed of in the sea each week. A pipeline carries this waste to the Sound of Islay. Continue reading...

Mark Reynier, MD of Bruichladdich Distillery, said: "We are going to install two anaerobic digesters on our site where the waste will be broken down to produce biogas, which can then be burnt to make electricity. In theory, it could meet all our power needs." The first digester will be installed next month. "The digesters will cost about £300,000 in capital outlay so it should take just three to five years to recoup the cost." He hopes to use such innovation to help market Bruichladdich as one of the greenest whiskies. "Whisky has a very high carbon footprint," said Reynier. "We have already cut it by using locally grown and organic barley rather than importing it, and these digesters will bring it down further." Indeed, Diageo, the drinks giant, has invested in a similar scheme at its Cameronbridge distillery.

There are other reasons for the distilleries’ interest in the technology. Islay has an antiquated power supply based on a single cable from the mainland, and voltage fluctuations exacerbated by the distilleries’ demands can cause problems with computers and other electronic equipment. Generating power on the island would help reduce this problem. David Protherough, project manager at Re-JIG, said the distillery project would help to cut tanker traffic on the island’s roads and also reduce marine pollution. "We have spoken to the managers of the distilleries on the island and they are keen. Our hope is that the distilleries will make so much biogas that there will be enough to power some of the island’s vehicles too. "If you put it all together with the wave and tidal power systems, Islay could be one of the greenest communities in Britain," said Protherough."

Make sure to also read Mark Reyniers view

Tag: energy distilleries bruichladdich environment