Whyte and Mackay, which is the largest distiller in the north of Scotland, is expected to be one of the first users of green hydrogen produced from a planned electrolyser on the Cromarty Firth.
And he thinks his decarbonization campaign would be boosted by a scale-up of the clean gas production plant that would be made possible by Green Freeport status.
Whyte and Mackay has five distilleries across Scotland, including Invergordon and The Dalmore on the Cromarty Firth.
The company funded a feasibility study for the electrolyser, along with other distillers Glenmorangie and Diageo, as well as ScottishPower, Storegga and the Port of Cromarty Firth (PoCF).
ScottishPower and Storegga have since announced plans to jointly develop one of the UK’s largest green hydrogen plants in the region. The first phase of the project, which should be operational in 2025, will be able to produce up to 20 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, for use in the heating processes of distilleries, as well as in regional transport.
The developers said Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth would have the potential to advance investments of over £1 billion in a larger-scale plant up to 10 years and put the Highlands” firmly at the center of greater scale production” of zero-emission fuel.
Whyte and Mackay’s Invergordon Distillery is the largest in the north of Scotland and the company is one of the biggest employers in the Cromarty Firth area, with a workforce of around 130 people.
The company expressed its support for the North Green Freeport in a letter attached to the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium’s bid, submitted to UK and Scottish ministers in June.
In it, Whyte and Mackay Director of Distillation, Shane Healy, wrote: “We have set ourselves the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 and we have a number of key projects to enable us to achieve this. achieve it. At the heart of this is green gas, with a balanced approach between biogas and green hydrogen.
“We plan to start taking green hydrogen from the electrolyser when it is operational; initially requiring two tonnes of green hydrogen per day. This is expected to increase to six tonnes per day by around 2030. This will require infrastructure capital expenditure of around £4-6m by 2030.
“We are also investing heavily in a green biomethane anaerobic digestion plant that would have green hydrogen blended into its supply to allow us to generate enough green, carbon-free gas to meet our pre-2030 ambition.”
Mr Healy continued: “The Cromarty Firth area is of critical importance to our business and where we also hold the vast majority of our maturing whiskey inventory.
“The freeport tax incentive can help accelerate the scale-up of the electrolyser and also reduce the cost of green hydrogen. This is important to enable us to achieve our ambitious decarbonization goals and also to enable us to be competitive, as we experience the cost disadvantages of operating in a semi-rural location, nearly 200 miles from our factory in bottling and distribution in Grangemouth.
“The Opportunity Cromarty Firth submission is focused on areas where we have our largest distilling and maturing footprint and we fully support the consortium and the benefits it can bring to our area and the community within it.”
Commenting on behalf of the OCF, Cromarty Firth Port General Manager Bob Buskie said: “We would like to sincerely thank Whyte and Mackay for their strong expressions of support for our bid.
“They, along with Glenmorangie, Diageo, ScottishPower and Storegga, have been instrumental in developing a green hydrogen industry in the Highlands and fully support the scaling up of this industry which can be accelerated by the granting of Green Freeport status.
“In addition to helping decarbonize industries, this is a sector that will play an important role in advancing regional and national energy security, creating high-quality green careers and supply chain opportunities.
“With Green Freeport status for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth, there is a real opportunity for the UK to secure its position as a world leader and leading exporter of this clean fuel alternative.”
The OCF Consortium, launched in 2020, includes the ports of Cromarty Firth, Nigg and Inverness, as well as the largest air terminal in the Highlands and the Inverness Airport Business Park.
It is supported by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen businesses, as well as public sector organizations and academic bodies including the Highland Council and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross added his support for the bid last week, after a cross-party group of MPs and MSPs from other parties issued a joint letter confirming their support.