Hydrogen Gin Distillery
16 Sep 2019
At Energist, we’re known for keeping a well-stocked supply of chocolate in our offices. And although we don’t talk about it, we are also partial to the occasional bottle of gin. So it’s no surprise this story caught our attention – the government is funding the creation of the world’s first hydrogen powered gin distillery. It’s part of a wider research project to see if hydrogen can be realistically used to fuel all buildings – from the largest industrial sites to our own homes – in the future.
The plan is to convert an ageing distillery in the Orkney Isles, which currently relies on LPG gas bottles, using wind and tidal turbine generators to produce hydrogen energy. The only bi-product of hydrogen energy is water, meaning no carbon emissions would be produced. The £390 million hydrogen fund will also be used to research ways of cutting emissions from our steel industry, and to explore ways of mixing hydrogen generation into our current energy supplies.
At the top level, this article all sounds very positive. Using turbines to generate hydrogen as a wider fuel source has the potential to give us both a greener electricity grid and a greener gas network. But, at what cost? A separate government commitment tackles fuel poverty, and laws are now in place to prevent our least efficient buildings being sold or leased until renovation work has been carried out (see Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards).
In the domestic sector, MEES are targeted on Energy Performance Ratings which are calculated based on fuel bills and running costs. If more of us move away from oil and gas heating in favour of electricity, our homes may well be greener but our bills will be higher and the average EPC rating for new dwellings will be worse.
The powers-that-be will need to make sure any new technologies are financially viable to avoid pushing more people into fuel poverty. There’s a careful balance to be made between decarbonising our fuel supply and keeping our energy affordable. With the UK committed to a coal free power supply by 2025 and net zero carbon by 2050, we can expect more stories like this to appear in the coming years. It will be interesting to see how future Governments tackle fuel poverty, as our current trends suggest this is going to get worse before it gets better.