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BSRIA raises a glass to Scottish Renewables company that has been awarded Department for Transport grantSeptember 2015


Julia Evans OBE, BSRIA Chief Executive
BSRIA has applauded Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables who have developed a biofuel made from Scotch whisky by-products and been awarded an £11m grant by the UK Department for Transport.

The firm is one of three advanced biofuel producers to share in a £25m funding pot. The grant will go towards building a biofuel facility that will be operational by December 2018. The firm said the biofuel, called biobutanol, could provide an alternative to car and aviation fuel.

Celtic Renewables is a spin-out company from the Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) at the Edinburgh Napier University. The firm, in partnership with the Belgium-based BioBase Europe Pilot Plant, produced the first samples of biobutanol from waste in February. The by-products were provided by Perthshire distillery Tullibardine, which has worked in partnership with Celtic since 2012.

The biofuel is produced from draff – kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process in whisky production and pot ale, the yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation. The process was originally devised in the UK at the start of the last century to produce acetone for explosives used in World War One. It was phased-out in the 1960s due to competition from the petrochemical industry.

Back in June, after negative renewable announcements made by the new Conservative government, BSRIA expressed concerns over the impact such announcements will have on investment levels for the introduction of renewable technologies. In that week, the European Commission expressed concern that the UK would miss its EU renewable target for 2020 and told the government it should review its policies to “get back on track”. It was clear that to achieve these targets, the government will have to rely on private investors having the confidence to invest in the development and implementation of technology. 

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “Using the leftovers from the whisky industry to create a fuel source that contributes to the low carbon fuel we all want – and that can help the UK reach its renewable targets for 2020 – is, not only resourceful, but fantastic news. It certainly is a ‘win-win’ situation. Added to the fact that this new industry will be worth more than £100m-a-year. Celtic Rewnewables should be applauded for leading the way and demonstrating how such renewable technologies can make an impact.”

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