A Scottish gin distillery aims to be the first in the world to produce its alcohol using hydrogen power, after securing a slice of overall funding for clean energy projects worth more than €400 million.
On Thursday (29 August), the UK government announced that it would pump £390 million into hydrogen and low carbon projects, which include efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the iron and steel industry.
A £40m stream of funding is dedicated to the Hydrogen and Fuel Switching Innovation Fund, which will distribute money to schemes in the cement, food and drink and glass industries.
‘HySpirits’ hopes to use its modest share to show that hydrogen can be used in the gin distilling process to provide heating and plans to use green fuel produced by wind and tidal plants to run its operations on the islands of Orkney, in Scotland.
Power will be sourced from the local European Marine Energy Centre, which said that “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”.
The idea is to reduce emissions by around 86 tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions from 10 homes. Craft breweries are sprouting up all over the UK and HySpirits hopes that it will show others how to go green.
More than 350 gin distilleries and 2,200 breweries have set up shop in Britain and all could cut their carbon footprint if the hydrogen project is successful and affordable and they decide to follow suit.
British climate change chief Lord Duncan said that “it’s great to know we can all enjoy an environmentally friendly tipple while helping our planet as we press towards a net-zero emissions economy by 2050”.
The UK adopted a net-zero emissions target for 2050 earlier this year, making it the first major economy in the world to enshrine the ambitious goal in law. Climate experts have warned that radical new policies will be needed to meet it.
A report this week by the Science and Technology Select Committee warned that emission reduction efforts have been stymied by “unacceptable delays and cutbacks”, including electric car grants being scrapped and a fuel tax freeze.
Committee chair Norman Lamb said that the government “may be ambitious when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, [but] it is not putting the policies in place”. He added that there will be “dire consequences” if the situation does not change.
Government analysts predict that a greener economy could add 2 million jobs to the UK market and increase annual exports by £170 billion by 2030.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]