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Irish Distillers' Midleton Distillery set to go carbon-neutral

Irish Distillers is set to invest €50 million in its Midleton Distillery to make the facility carbon neutral by the end of 2026.

The investment would put Midleton on track to become Ireland's first and largest carbon-neutral distillery.

The plan will see the elimination of scope 1 and scope 2 carbon emissions over the next four and a half years. This encompasses direct sources of greenhouse gases controlled or owned by the business, including fuel for furnaces and vehicles, and indirect emissions associated with heating, cooling, and the purchase of electricity.

Midleton Distillery's roadmap towards carbon nuetrality includes several projects, with the first aimed at reducing overall energy use by improving on-site energy generation efficiency and recycling waste heat from the distillation process. The distillery's remaining energy requirements will eventually be met by generating power from renewable sources. 

To help deliver its goals, Irish Distillers has invested in highly energy-efficient boilers and is working with global partners on Mechanical Vapor Recompression (MVR) technology, which will see a closed looped system capture, compress and recycle waste heat in the distilling process.

Irish Distillers estimates that the first three steps in its roadmap will reduce Midleton Distillery's emissions by up to 70 per cent.

The final phases will see the introduction of renewable sources of energy, including green hydrogen and biogas. To achieve this, Irish Distillers has partnered with local experts at EI-H2 to explore opportunities to source green hydrogen, and has carried out research in partnership with MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine, hosted by University College Cork, to determine the biomethane potential of the by-products of distillation and design the required anaerobic digestion process necessary to produce biogas.

Alongside plans to reduce its direct emissions, Irish Distillers has recently completed a mapping exercise of its entire carbon footprint. Using this data, it will work with suppliers on initiatives to reduce emissions across all areas of its business including raw materials, dry goods, transportation, logistics and freight. 

Conor McQuaid, Irish Distillers CEO and chairman, said: "Today is a hugely significant day for Irish Distillers as we announce our ambition for Midleton Distillery to become the first and largest carbon neutral distillery in Ireland by 2026.

"This announcement is reflective of our commitment and ambition to reduce our environmental impact. We understand that our long-term future depends on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. This plan was many years in the making, and we understand that there are many more years ahead to reach our goal. However, we are confident that by making this bold and brave move into the future, we will leave fossil fuels behind for good." 

Tommy Keane, operations director at Irish Distillers, said: "With the climate crisis at a critical juncture, Irish Distillers is committed to reducing our environmental impact across our entire value chain and an area that we cannot ignore is how we power our distillery.

"While the technical challenges the team face in transforming our operations at Midleton Distillery to become carbon neutral are considerable, we believe that with the help and support of our partners at home and across the globe, this is possible. We are committed to doing the right thing for our industry, people, and communities."

13 June 2022 - Bethany Whymark