Tomatin Distillery

Inverness based Tomatin Distillery recently became the first distillery in Scotland to benefit from the Balcas steam boiler solution which is enabling Tomatin to displace the majority of the distillery’s heavy fuel oil and in doing so significantly reducing its carbon emissions.

In this industry-leading move, Tomatin has experienced an immediate reduction of its annual carbon output by over 4,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking 1,200 family cars off the road. The installation and wood pellets used to fuel the boiler are both supplied by Balcas from their Invergordon facility, based only 35 miles from the distillery.

Reducing greenhouse gas emission and increasing the use of non-fossil fuel are the cornerstones of the Scotch Whisky industry’s efforts to make manufacturing more sustainable and support a low carbon economy. The shift from heavy fuel oil to biomass is critical to achieving this objective and many other distilleries are thought to be interested in following in Tomatin’s footsteps and are reviewing the unique Balcas solution.

Neil Holland, Balcas brites Sales and Marketing Director said: “We are delighted to have provided this integrated heat solution to Tomatin, which has resulted in instant and significant carbon savings for the distillery. Our Technical team has been assisting customers for many years, so we know a lot of the pitfalls of implementing this type of project. By ensuring that our boiler and silo solution is optimised both to Tomatin’s steam requirements and for the use of our premium quality brites (wood pellets), the project has been relatively straight forward. Given that the RHI is for the next twenty years we believe that having a world class solution for the supply of steam in an industrial or commercial setting backed with the security of supply of fuel for the next twenty years has, and will be, a decisive factor for many customers in this marketplace.”

The new 4MW wood pellet fuelled steam boiler at Tomatin is the largest of its kind in Scotland and possibly the UK – and was no mean feat to install. Just one of the challenges facing the team was the fact that the main Perth to Inverness railway line runs across the entrance road to the distillery, so a major operation was carried out involving the closure of the railway in order to have the two pellet silos and the very heavy boiler itself lifted over it using a 500 tonne crane, all of which was captured for prosperity on the distillery’s facebook page. Even with these added technical challenges, the boiler produced steam only 8 months after Tomatin agreed the deal with Balcas. 

Tomatin at a glance…

  • Up to 96,500 tonnes of CO2 saved by the distillery over the course of the contract
  • Security of fuel supply from the largest wood pellet manufacturer in the UK and Ireland
  • Significant financial savings from early in the project
  • Customer isolated long term from the price fluctuations in the fossil fuel market
  • Experienced engineering team to deliver a 4MW installation in 8 months including planning permission

“As members of the Scotch Whisky Association we are fully committed, along with the other members, to reducing our carbon output by 20% by 2020. The shift to brites fuel means we have now achieved this target; seven years ahead of the target. As well as the carbon reduction, there was also a clear financial saving offered by Balcas, with the Renewable Heat Incentive providing additional funding for the next twenty years. In addition to these savings, the solution proposed by Balcas was also much more compact that others we had reviewed and the use of pellets meant we had a local and reliable source of fuel. We are delighted to now be one of the greenest distilleries in Scotland, and to have been the first to have completed the installation.”

Graham EunsonTomatin Distillery Manager