The UK government has pledged a £10 million (US$12.9m) research and development fund to help the nation’s distilleries become more environmentally sustainable.
The £10m funding to help distilleries go green was first announced by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak during the spring budget in March 2020.
The fund aims to “kick-start green innovation” and will provide backing to UK distilleries to help them utilise energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations.
Kwasi Kwarteng, minister of state for business, energy and clean growth, said: “We want to harness the tremendous innovation of our distilleries so customers can enjoy their favourite tipple in the knowledge they are helping us to tackle climate change.
“In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20%, demonstrating the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of a clean and resilient recovery.”
The programme aims to back a range of different solutions such as electrification, hydrogen, biomass or waste. Furthermore, enabling technology such as fuel conversion, transportation or storage will also be considered.
The funding will help stop pollution equivalent to emissions from 100,000 cars from entering the atmosphere. Whisky production is around seven times more energy intensive than gin production and directly made the carbon dioxide equivalent of around 530,000 tonnes in 2018.
Phase one of the scheme will fund feasibility studies into developing technologies that enable the use of low-carbon fuel in production.
Dagmar Droogsma, director of industry for Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), said the fund was an “important step” in helping the Scotch whisky sector on its sustainability journey.
She said: “The use of innovative technology is among several approaches that the industry could adopt as it works towards net zero by 2045, as outlined in our recent net zero report.
“This fund will provide us with the opportunity to put forward bids for demonstration projects for so-far untested technologies, helping the Scotch whisky industry play its part in reaching Scotland’s emissions targets.”
The move will help the UK reach its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The scheme is supported by the £505m (US$665.3m) BEIS Energy Innovation Portfolio, which aims to boost the commercialisation of innovative, cheap, clean and reliable energy technologies.
The new Green Distilleries scheme opened yesterday (17 August) and producers can register their interest to find more about the programme on the government’s website.
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Author: Nicola Carruthers