Green project

Distilleries trial plans for Highlands hydrogen hub

Bob Buskie

Bob Buskie: massive boost (pic: Terry Murden)

A green hydrogen hub in the Highlands fuelling distilleries in the region is part of plans to put Scotland at the forefront of clean energy technology.

The North of Scotland Hydrogen Programme based around the Cromarty Firth will produce and ultimately distribute hydrogen across the UK and Europe.

A feasibility study involving whisky distilleries will begin this month and is due to be completed in June. It is being privately funded by partners including ScottishPower, drinks giants Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo and Pale Blue Dot Energy which is also leading the project.

Green hydrogen is created using electrolysers powered by electricity from renewable sources. Power would be supplied from current and future wind farms off the coast of the Cromarty Firth, as well as onshore schemes, and fed to the hub.

Bob Buskie, chief executive of the Port, said such a hub would provide a massive boost to Scotland’s ambitions of decarbonising its economy and establishing itself as global leaders in green hydrogen technology, a sector still in its infancy.

The delivery of green hydrogen to Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo will give them the opportunity to decarbonise the heating of their distilleries and maltings, which are situated close to the Cromarty Firth. 

This would be achieved by using hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels to create the energy needed to make steam so the distilling process can be achieved.


Glenmorangie is among the partners

Mr Buskie added: “In the short term, we have a number of local partners with vast experience in hydrogen, distilling and utility provision who want to decarbonise their operations.

“In the long term, there is a huge opportunity to decarbonise Highland industry, transport and heat, as well as exporting green hydrogen to other parts of the UK and mainland Europe, which doesn’t have the same offshore wind capacity as Scotland.”

Sam Gomersall, hydrogen champion at Pale Blue Dot Energy, said: “Scotland has the potential to be a global forerunner of green hydrogen production on a massive scale.”

Up to 15 offshore wind sites are due to be developed in the coming years, with a significant number close to the Cromarty Firth. The port benefits from deep waters, established facilities and location at the end of the gas grid.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “It is clear that hydrogen will not only help us end our contribution to causing climate change, but could also create significant economic opportunities in Scotland.”

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