Hydrogen-powered distillery to produce sustainable gin

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  • £390 million government investment in hydrogen and low carbon tech to help industry cut emissions as the UK moves towards net zero emissions by 2050
  • clean economy has the potential to deliver £170 billion of annual exports by 2030, which hydrogen could be a part of

An environmentally friendly gin distillery could use hydrogen power to produce sustainable gin as part of £390 million government investment to reduce emissions from industry.

The HySpirits project will explore the possibility of converting a craft gin distillery in Orkney in Scotland from using liquid petroleum gas – currently used in gas barbecues and outdoor heaters – to hydrogen to make the process more environmentally friendly.

Funding for the pilot project is part of £390 million government funding announced today to help industry cut emissions. This includes a:

  • £40 million Hydrogen and Fuel Switching Innovation Fund to explore how the technology can be rolled out across the UK to help cut emissions
  • £100 million competition to enable greater supply of low carbon hydrogen for use across the economy to help businesses decarbonise
  • £250 million Clean Steel Fund to support the iron and steel industry, which currently accounts for 15% of industry emissions, to transition to a low carbon future, including using hydrogen

Climate Change Minister Lord Duncan, said:

It’s great to know we can all enjoy an environmentally friendly tipple while helping our planet as we press towards a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Developing hydrogen technology has the potential to not only reduce emissions from industry, but could also help us seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner economies – with the prize of up 2 million jobs and £170 billion of annual exports by 2030.

Working with the European Marine Energy Centre’s plant – which uses wind and tidal technology to produce hydrogen – the HySpirits project would use this locally-produced ‘green’ hydrogen to supply zero-carbon heat for the gin distillation process. If successful, this would reduce emissions from the plant by around 86 tonnes of CO2 every year – the equivalent annual emissions from 10 homes or 18 cars – and show how the UK’s growing craft brewing industry can switch from using fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives.

Another pilot project aims to use floating wind turbines to produce hydrogen. The Dolphyn project will mount electrolysers – electrical devices to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – onto platforms to produce hydrogen. One wind turbine alone has the potential to produce enough low carbon hydrogen to heat around 2,500 homes, fuel over 120 to 240 buses, or run 8 to 12 trains.

HySpirits and the Dolphyn projects are just 2 out of 20 companies that have secured a share of up to £40 million of government funding to explore how the use of hydrogen can be rolled out across the UK – a crucial step towards the end of the UK’s contribution to global warming. Out of these, a further 7 projects have been selected to develop their concepts covering a range of sectors including steel, food and drinks, nickel, cement, and glass. The best of these will be awarded up to £7.5 million to move their technologies towards commercialisation.

Moving to a cleaner, greener economy could help the UK seize the benefits of clean growth, with the potential of 2 million jobs and £170 billion of annual exports by 2030, which hydrogen could be a part of.

Today’s announcement follows sustained support for low-carbon technologies from the government, which includes recently investing £26 million into 9 carbon capture schemes. One of these, in Cheshire, will soon become the UK’s largest CCUS project, with the captured chemicals potentially being used to make a range of products, from beer and eye drops to instant noodles.

The government’s Clean Growth Strategy similarly highlights the need for industry to begin to switch from fossil fuel use to low carbon fuels such as biomass, hydrogen and clean electricity.

Energy-intensive industries currently produce approximately 24% of global emissions and account for around 10% of emissions in the UK. Low carbon hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising heavy industries including cement and glass as well as power, heat and transport. To reach this goal, beyond 2030, the switch to low carbon fuels will need to substantially increase in scale, and hydrogen could be used to power our factories, fuel our vehicles and heat our homes.

Today’s funding places the UK at the forefront of this clean-tech roll-out to meet the challenge of scaling up hydrogen production for use in fuel cells and electrolysis, the automotive and rail sectors, as well as boiler manufacture.

Notes to editors 

1. The projects are being awarded a share of nearly £7 million as part of 2 government programmes – the £20 million Hydrogen Supply programme and the £20 million Industrial Fuel Switching competition.

2. The full list of projects which have secured funding is as follows: 

  • Hydrogen Supply feasibility phase (13 projects)
    • Environmental Resources Management Limited (ERM) – Dolphyn project: £427,600
    • Progressive Energy Limited – GHR Auto-Thermal Reformer Hydrogen Plant: £498,255
    • ITM Power Trading Ltd – Gigastack project: £499,905
    • INOVYN Enterprises Limited – HySECURE Project: £246,709
    • Pale Blue Dot Energy (PBDE) – Acorn Hydrogen Project: Feasibility Phase: £453,706
    • EDF Energy R&D UK Centre Limited – Hydrogen-to-Heysham (H2H): £412,034
    • Cranfield University – Bulk Hydrogen Production by sorbent Enhanced steam Reforming (HyPER): £498,046
    • SGN – Project Methilltoune: £497,239
    • Wood – Novel Renewable Ethanol Steam Reformer: £182,000
    • Wood – Novel Steam Methane / Gas Heated Reformer: £187,000
    • The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (The OGTC) – Delivery of an offshore hydrogen supply programme via industrial trials at the Flotta Terminal: £494,000
    • Kew Projects Limited - Zero Carbon Hydrogen Supply from Waste & Biomass: £275,000 
    • Ecuity Consulting - Harwell Ammonia to Renewable Hydrogen Project: £249,000 
  • Industrial Fuel Switching feasibility phase (7 projects):
    • European Marine Energy Centre Ltd – HySpirits: £148,609
    • C-Tech Innovation Ltd - Flexible Input Low Emission Reduction of Ore:  £269,553 
    • Tata Steel UK Ltd – Hydrogen for Reduction of Iron Ore in Major Iron Production: £279,817 
    • Progressive Energy Ltd - HyNet North West: £299,732 
    • Vale Europe Ltd - Alternative, Smart Platform for Integrated Refinery Energy: £197,314 
    • North Lincs. Engineering Ltd - Biofuels for Diesel Generation of electricity from very low-grade waste streams: £246,142 
    • Mineral Products Association - Options for switching UK cement production sites to near zero CO2 emission fuel: £285,653 
    • Glass Futures Ltd - Alternative Fuel Switching Technologies for the Glass Sector: £299,958

3. Details of the £100 million Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund and £250 million Clean Steel Fund:

  • £100 million Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund. The UK government will establish a new £100 million Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund to:
    • deploy low carbon hydrogen production capacity to enable greater use of hydrogen as a decarbonisation option across the energy system
    • encourage future private sector investment in low carbon hydrogen to support scale up and market development that aligns with the UK’s clean growth objectives
    • hydrogen could enable a pathway to lower carbon steel production and support broader efforts to decarbonise industry. Together these funds will be a vital part of transforming UK industry and seizing the opportunities of clean growth which are at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy
  • £250 million Clean Steel Fund:
    • steel is a strategically important industry for the UK and can be an important part of our clean growth story. To catalyse the transformation of this sector we will establish a new £250 million Clean Steel Fund to provide long term signal of support to the steel sector and its decarbonisation efforts.
      The Fund will seek to support the sector to:
    • transition to lower carbon iron and steel production through new technologies and processes, placing the sector on a pathway that is consistent with the UK Climate Change Act (net zero)
    • maximise longevity and resilience in the UK steel sector by building on longstanding expertise and skills and harnessing clean growth opportunities
    • this call for evidence seeks views and supporting evidence to help us develop the detailed design of the Fund, including on barriers to realising clean steel ambitions, and the opportunities to be gained in overcoming these

4. Government is already investing up to £100 million as part of a wider Industry and CCS Innovation programme for low carbon industrial innovation, which includes both hydrogen and Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS).

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