Scotch whisky distilleries to use renewable power generated by subsea turbines

The maritime area around Scotland has a number of interesting projects focusing on marine energy. The whisky distilleries on an archipelago west of mainland Scotland will soon be powered using electricity generated by subsea tidal turbines.

The project is implemented by the tidal energy firm Nova Innovation, which will install a series of underwater turbines between the isles of Islay and Jura in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. The turbines will create clean, renewable power generated by the tide that will displace fossil fuels used on the islands and power local whisky distilleries. These subsea turbines have no visual impact on the landscape, create no shipping or navigational hazard, and work in harmony with the marine environment.

This move is another example of how marine energy can contribute to the decarbonization of communities and businesses.

Scotch whisky distilleries to use renewable power generated by subsea turbines
The tidal turbines generate clean electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the tide. Credit: Nova Innovation

The revolutionary 3MW’ Òran na Mara’ project – Gaelic for ‘song of the sea’ – is estimated to reduce the islands’ dependence on fossil fuels by sending renewable electricity to the grid. This electricity will be delivered to whiskey distilleries via direct connection or through the network.

Crown Estate Scotland (CES), which manages marine, coastal and rural assets and commercial real estate, has awarded Nova Innovation an Option Agreement for the project that enables the company to start its detailed development. If all goes well, the project is expected to be completed and operational by 2022.

This tidal energy project is really encouraging news for Islay and the potential of energy sourced locally and renewably,” said AJ Cunningham, Operations Manager at Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay. “In order to decarbonize our activities, access to a clean and continuous supply of energy such as tidal power could help support our carbon zero ambitions.

Islay and Jura are currently home to 10 of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries. As Scotland transitions toward its commitment to net zero emissions by 2045, the whisky industry is adapting, with many distilleries looking at developing alternative zero-carbon solutions.

The Òran na Mara tidal array has the potential to pair one of Scotland’s largest and world-leading exports – whisky – with world-leading and internationally exportable tidal power technology,” added Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation.

Nevertheless, the marine environment around Scotland is already a very exciting area for those interested in hydropower. The Orkney archipelago, for example, is home to the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC), where developers can test their hydropower equipment on the high seas.

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