GIB funds whisky distillery's oil-to-wood pellet switch

By Anna Simet | July 18, 2013

A whisky distillery near Inverness, Scotland, is switching out its oil-fired boiler with a wood pellet boiler system that will replace 80 percent of its current heat load.

Tomatin Distillery, a producer and blender of Scotch whisky, is sourcing its pellets from Balcas Ltd., the largest manufacturer of wood pellet fuel in the British Isles. Balcas’ 100,000-metric-ton plant in Invergordon, Scotland, is also powered by biomass, via a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant. Residual heat from the CHP system is used to dry the fiber processed into fuel pellets, and surplus power is sold to the grid.

Balcas has an additional 55,000-ton plant in Enniskillen, Scotland, and sells pellets from both plants under the “brites” brand.

The distillery project is being funded by Equitix-managed fund Energy Savings Investments, which Green Investment Bank is a cornerstone investor of. GIB said the £1.2 million investment is its first in Scotland. 

GIB was set up to help the U.K. achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets and increase renewable energy generation, and has an initial £3 billion in capital to fund projects. An annual report released at the end of June said GIB has committed funds to 11 transactions during its first five months of operation, several of which are biomass projects, including a £100 investment in Drax to support its biomass conversion and £30 million in the Wakefield waste/biomass project in January, followed by £47 million in the Gloucester waste/biomass project in February.