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Tomatin Distillery in Tomatin

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Tomatin Distillery, located 16 miles south of Inverness, has become the first Scottish distillery to install a new, state of the art, sustainable biomass boiler. This renewable energy boiler, displaces the distillery’s previous heavy-fuel oil usage and produces both heat and steam for the whisky making process.

Fuelled by locally produced wood pellets, this new 4MW biomass steam boiler solution provided by Balcas allows Tomatin Distillery to displace the majority of its heavy fuel oil and, in doing so, cut its carbon emissions. Tomatin experienced an immediate reduction of its annual carbon output by over 4,000 tonnes. The installation and wood pellets used to fuel the boiler are both supplied by Balcas from their Invergordon facility, based only 35 miles from the distillery, so the project has helped support the local supply chain.

Balcas manufacture their premium quality wood pellets, called brites, at their pellet mill in Invergordon using renewable energy which is generated from the onsite combined heat and power (CHP) plant. This process ensures that brites wood pellets have the lowest possible carbon footprint. The wood is sourced from forests in the Northern Highlands. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of non-fossil fuels are cornerstones of the Scotch whisky industry’s efforts to make manufacturing more sustainable and support a low carbon economy.

Tomatin is fully committed to reducing its carbon output by 80% by 2050. The shift to brites fuel means Tomatin is on the verge of achieving its contribution to the industry goal years ahead of target.

As well as carbon reduction there was also a clear financial saving to the distillery through the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive providing additional funding for the next 20 years. In addition to these savings, the brites pellet boiler and fuel silos occupy an area no larger than the oil boiler and heavy fuel oil tanks which they replace and the use of pellets means Tomatin has a local and reliable source of fuel.

The new 4MW wood pellet fuelled steam boiler at Tomatin is the largest of its kind in Scotland and was no mean feat to install.

The main railway line between Perth and Inverness crosses through the distillery’s land, so a major operation was carried out involving the closure of the railway to have the two pellet silos and the boiler lifted over it, using a 500 tonne crane.

The project benefited from the first investment in Scotland by the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB), designed to generate money for environmentally-friendly projects. Fund manager Equitix secured £576,733 from the GIB along with a further £600,274 from private sources.

Tomatin is owned by Japanese company Takara Shuzo.

Food/drinks processing
Biomass boilersSmart meter
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