THREE companies have joined forces to accelerate the use of biofuel technology throughout Scotland with plans for a new biorefinery.

Ardnamurchan Distillery (below), Woodlands Renewables and Scotland’s first biorefinery, Celtic Renewables, based in Grangemouth, have teamed up in a joint project.

Celtic Renewables has already attracted £43 million of investment, and the new biorefinery will be able to produce one million litres of sustainable biochemicals annually, and five large-scale refineries are planned worldwide in the next five years.

The National: Ardnamurchan DistilleryArdnamurchan Distillery

The firm's website states that it is "constructing its first state-of-the-art commercial processing plant, which will transform locally sources and low-value materials into low-carbon, high-value, sustainable bioproducts".

The plant will use Celtic Renewables’ patented technology to convert 50,000 tonnes of biological material into renewable chemicals, sustainable biofuel, and other commercially and environmentally valuable commodities.

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The catalyst for the cooperation by the three companies is serial Scottish investor, Donald Houston, below, of Ardnamurchan Estates, who has substantial stakes in all three companies.

The National:

Houston said: ”Celtic Renewables needs a byproduct of whisky distilling called 'pot ale' to assist in its testing process, before starting full production of its biochemicals and biofuel.

“The pot ale is piped over the hill from the distillery to the neighbouring Woodland Renewables, a local business set up to repurpose the distillery’s byproducts whilst adding value to the local economy.

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"At the Woodland Renewables plant, it is combined with draff (another distillery byproduct) and turned into a nutritious animal feed used on the peninsula to feed local livestock. Woodland Renewables will transport part of their pot ale stock to Celtic Renewables.

“Since their launch, sustainability has been a major component of Ardnamurchan Distillery’s overall strategy. Looking at new ways to improve their sustainability and circular economy, this innovative technology developed by Celtic Renewables fits perfectly with the distillery’s objective.“

The National: Ardnamurchan LighthouseArdnamurchan Lighthouse

Alex Bruce, the Ardnamurchan Distillery managing director, said: “We designed the Ardnamurchan Distillery to be as sustainable as possible, and we continue to monitor and develop this as new technologies become available.

"Our energy all comes from local renewable sources (hydro and biomass) and our co-products, which are traditionally produced in all distilleries, are supplied to our neighbours, Woodland Renewables.

“From there they add value to the local circular economy by providing highly nutritious animal feed to livestock on Ardnamurchan, and we are incredibly excited that they also now deliver additional value to Celtic Renewables for conversion into sustainable chemicals and biofuels. This combination is a fantastic example of collaborative, high-value and sustainable long-term investment in the Scottish economy.”

The National:

Celtic Renewables’ president and founder Professor Martin Tangney OBE, above, said: “These tests we will be conducting with the whisky residue are the culmination of the lab work we started at Edinburgh Napier University in 2008 which led to the formation of our company in 2012. The substantial equity investment that enabled us to spinout Celtic Renewables came entirely from Donald Houston.

“Since then, we have gone on to raise over £43m in multiple rounds and Donald has contributed consistently along the way.

“Donald took the risk on us when we had nothing more than a lab-based research project but with ambition for global domination, and he has been both a committed financial investor and a stalwart investor in the people and the concept behind the company ever since."

The National: Work has started on the factory in GreenockWork has started on the factory in Greenock

“Once in production, we will have contracts for consistent supply of significant volumes of pot ale from the Scotch whisky industry. With the plant being commissioned we needed an ad hoc supply of pot ale on demand. Donald has stepped in to meet that need, to get us through to the full production phase.”

Donald Houston added: “Both Celtic Renewables technology and a new distillery such as Ardnamurchan Distillery require long term financial investment before seeing any returns. The time taken to start commissioning the renewable plant and produce a saleable output is very similar to that of having a saleable whisky ready on the market.

"This long-term investment strategy rather than the usual short-term commonly offered to start-ups is crucial to the health of our economy. I am proud to be a part of this long-term view.”