Helius Energy, whisky distillery form joint venture

By Anna Austin
Posted August 18, 2009, at 2:55 p.m. CST

U.K.-based Helius Energy PLC announced the formation of a joint venture with the Combination of Rothes Distillers called Helius CoRDe that will utilize whiskey distillation byproducts to produce power, organic fertilizer and animal feed.

The 50 million ($45 million) project in Morayshire, Scotland, will involve the construction of a "GreenFields" process plant and a 7.2 megawatt "GreenSwitch" combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant.

The technology implemented at the GreenFields plant will convert coproducts of distillery and food processing operations into biomass fuel, organic soil conditioner and animal feed. "In the case of this project, the GreenFields unit will process the pot ale (a high-protein coproduct removed prior to final distillation of the spirit), and will be powered by electricity from the GreenSwitch CHP unit. The CHP plant will be fuelled with a combination of processed distillery co-products produced by the GreenFields plant and woodchips from sustainable sources, according to a Helius Energy spokesman. The plant will produce enough electricity to power 9,000 homes, for use on-site and/or transporting to the national grid.

While the two technologies can be co-located, as in the Rothes project, they can also be implemented separately according to site requirements," the spokesman said. "The GreenFields unit can be configured in a number of ways and can also process water for cooling and cleaning purposes."

The exact proportion of each product produced will be determined when the unit is operational, he added.

Helius Energy will own 51 percent of Helius CorDe; the Combination of Rothes Distillery will own the remaining 49 percent.

Helius anticipates engineering procurement and construction contracts will be awarded shortly. Construction of the project is slated to begin in early 2010, and is estimated to take about two years to complete.

The project was named the Best Environmental Initiative at the seventh annual Scottish Green Energy Awards in Edinburgh, Scotland, in December. For more information about the award, go to www.biomassmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=2265&q=Helius.