In a bid to run more efficiently and to avoid the imminent withdrawal of tax relief on red diesel, family-run whisky producer J&A Mitchell & Co, is switching its energy supply at its Springbank and Glengyle distilleries from gas oil to liquid gas with Flogas. As a result, it is set to cut energy costs by up to 18% even before the subsidy changes, whilst also reducing carbon emissions by more than 20%. It will also minimise other pollutant emissions, making it compliant with the government’s Medium Combustion Plant Directive (MCPD), which regulates against air pollution.
The two distilleries are based in Campbeltown, Scotland, a region renowned for its whisky making. The larger distillery, Springbank, has been in operation since 1828 and is famous for its Springbank single malt whisky. Glengyle distillery, just two hundred metres away, was refurbished and re-opened in 2004, and is home to popular Kilkerran single malt whisky. Using traditional distillation methods, they produce ‘Scotland’s most handmade whiskies,’ and at the heart of this are two steam boilers, which until now, have used gas oil as their primary fuel source.
“Springbank is an old distillery that was never designed with efficiency or sustainability mind, so we’ve had to make improvements whilst making sure we don’t affect our original distillation process or popular final product,” said Findlay Ross, Director of Production at J&A Mitchell & Co. “Glengyle reopened more recently and has more modern design features, however, we’re always looking to improve our energy efficiency where possible.”
“The old boiler at Springbank originally ran on coal, then heavy oil and most recently gas oil. We replaced this in 2017 with a much more efficient boiler, but we knew we had to move away from oil and find a more futureproof energy solution at some point. It was the best way to make huge cost and emissions reductions in one go, without affecting our production process.
“The planned withdrawal of the red diesel fuel subsidy in April 2022 really accelerated our decision. We did the calculations and staying on oil would have had a major impact on our energy bills. We initially looked at anaerobic digestion, but it wasn’t feasible for us, as we don’t produce enough organic waste for a consistent feed. That’s when we started looking at liquid gas. We knew other companies in the area were making significant cost and emissions savings and we wanted to tap into that!”
J&A Mitchell & Co approached liquid gas specialist Flogas and, working in partnership with energy solutions firm Protech and burner manufacturer Weishaupt UK, Protech specified & designed a tailored solution to meet the requirements for both sites. At Springbank, the team is upgrading its existing burner to a dual fuel model, making liquid gas the primary fuel source, whilst at Glengyle, it is installing a brand new digital Weishaupt dual fuel burner. Fuelling both systems with underground pipework are liquid gas tanks, which sit between the two sites.
“Liquid gas is a much more reliable fuel source for us,” added Findlay, “and because our tanks are fitted with auto-ordering technology, we’ll never have to worry about being caught out. Running on more modern burners and switching to liquid gas is going to make us so much more efficient. Also, the cost savings are going to be significant, even before the red diesel subsidy withdrawal, which means we can now invest in other important areas of the business.”
Commenting on the project, Ross Docherty, Director at Protech said: “We’ve worked closely with the team at J&A Mitchell & Co to provide a solution that meets their needs. This project has been a great example of real collaboration with the experts at Flogas and Weishaupt to bring it all together. Both distilleries can now look forward to a modernised energy solution in early 2022 that will not only positively impact their bottom line, but it’ll make them more efficient, MCPD compliant and have ultimately futureproofed their burner plant as fuels and controls evolve.”
Garry Wilson at Flogas added: “Together with Protech and Weishaupt, we’ve been able to help J&A Mitchell & Co take a major step forward in becoming more fit for the future. With the red diesel dutyincreasing imminently, the company will be avoiding a big outlay, and instead will be able to enjoy lower costs. It’s also made big headway in cutting emissions, which helps with internal targets and means it is MCPD compliant well ahead of the 2025 deadline. When the time comes to consider a carbon neutral future, it’ll also be able to move over to BioLPG without any equipment changes, so it’s already on the path to net zero.”