Scotland is going to make electricity out of its famous whiskey, or at least out of the byproducts.

It is the spirit that powers the Scottish economy, and now whiskey is to be used to create electricity for homes in a new bioenergy venture involving some of Scotland’s best-known distilleries.

Contracts have been awarded to build a biomass combined heat and power plant at Rothes in Speyside that by 2013 will use the by-products of the whiskey-making process for energy production.

The Scottish whiskey industry produces large amounts of “draff,” the spent barley grains used in the distilling process.  The plant will burn the draff with woodchips to generate enough electricity to supply 9,000 homes.  It will generate 7.2 megawatts of renewable power.  The draff has historically been transported off-site to create animal feed.

“At that level the site would cut carbon emissions from the Scotch whisky industry as a whole by 6 per cent,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, director of operational and technical affairs at the Scotch Whisky Association.

A number of distillers are pursing their own projects to turn pot ale and draff into energy or generate steam and power from another whisky by-product – ‘spent wash’.

Diageo, for example, has built a bio-energy facility at its Cameronbridge distillery in Fife. This is to provide for 80 per cent of the electricity requirements at the distillery.

See also Burning the Draff.


UPDATE  September 5, 2011

businessGreen reports that multinational alcoholic beverage manufacturer Diageo will invest £6 million into a bioenergy plant near Elgin, Scotland.  The plant will burn 30,000 tonnes of draff at its Glenlossie distillery complex in Speyside to help power its on-site operations and a dark grains plant which makes animal feed.



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1 Comment on Scottish Whiskey is Electrifying

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    Will this have the unintended consequence of raising the price of animal feed as we have seen with the corn subsidy in the US? Not saying this is an inappropriate arrangement, but in the end, we all know there’s no free lunch. Not for us, or the animals.