Scottish Whisky is being used to power homes. Well, not exactly the whisky, but the by-products, such as energy, as being used to power communities. The project, The Rothes CoRDe, part-owned by The Combination of Rothes Distillers, is leading the distilleries program.
“A number of whisky companies are part of an industry consortium looking at sustainable ways of processing by-products from our distilleries,” explained Iain Lochhead, Operations Director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies. “We believe we are doing our part in protecting the environment of Scotland. Since we use natural ingredients to make our whisky, we want to leave our surroundings in the same pristine condition as we find them.”
The plant utilises draff which is a by-product of whisky production. This comes from 17 different distilleries and is mixed 50/50 with wood chips.
The Speyside area of the Scottish Highlands is home to around 50 whisky distilleries. Rothes, in the heart of that region, is the site of a new, blended-biomass plant that generates heat and power for local communities. It works by burning draff (the spent grains used in the distilling process) with woodchips to create steam-generating electricity.
“We generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity every hour of every day. We use some onsite and export the rest – enough for 20,000 people in 8,000 homes,” said Frank Burns, Managing Director, Rothes CoRDe. “We are powering all of the local communities.”
Another innovation is converting pot ale – the residue from copper whisky stills – into organic feedstock that local farmers use for their animals. “By recovering by-products from our distilleries, we turn them into material of purpose and value,” Burns said. “Ultimately, everything we make, whether it’s animal feed – or even the ash from our boiler process – goes back to the land or to the farm.”
David Williamson of the Scotch Whisky Association, added, “In the end, we want to take this industry forward, to invest and grow, but also make sure we preserve the natural environment we rely on to support Scotch whisky for many years to come.”