Bunnahabhain wins Sustainable Development of the Year


Islay distillery, Bunnahabhain, has won the Sustainable Development of the Year Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards for its Biomass Energy Centre with the energy centre is on track to achieve net zero distillation 15 years ahead of the Scotch Whisky Association’s 2040 target

Completed in 2022 and funded and owned by AMP Clean Energy and developed, built and operated by Dallol Energy, the energy centre will result in the first Net Zero distillation process on Islay. It is fuelled with a mix of spent process malt (draff) and local woody biomass.

The clean burn biomass boiler is one of the cleanest systems in Europe and whisky’s first example of three zoned biomass combustion coupled with NOx reduction technology. It saves 5500 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, representing a reduction of 95% over oil.

It creates a new forest economy and employment on the island. The need for woody biomass fuel provides a local market for low value biomass that helps finance the export of premium sawlogs, a largely uneconomic prospect up to now. During construction, Islay contractors supplied the groundworks, civil engineering and most of the electrics. The plant manager is also an Islay resident.

The project has improved biodiversity and wildlife habitats through replanting unmanaged conifer forest with hard and soft wood and peat bog is restored to its natural state. Wood ash will be used as forest fertiliser creating circular sustainability. New planting is planned near the distillery helping achieve Scotland’s ambitious afforestation targets.

Angus Colquhoun, Technical & Compliance Manager for Distell said “Bunnahabhain Distillery are very proud to have been awarded the Sustainable Development of the Year award.  As an off-grid, island location, decarbonising our energy supply has been a very challenging ambition. With the support of AMP Clean Energy and the technical knowledge of Dallol, we have taken a huge leap towards our net-zero ambition and are delighted to be Islay’s first distillery to use renewably generated thermal energy.”

Mark Tarry, Chief Executive of AMP Clean Energy, said: “We are honoured to have supported Bunnahabhain in their trailblazing approach to sustainable whisky production. The flagship biomass energy centre at the Bunnahabhain distillery showcases how whisky producers can take control of their energy and meet ambitious net zero targets.”