Tide-powered whisky to be produced in Sound of Islay

Underwater turbines will help create renewable energy to power local Scotch whisky distilleries and replace fossil fuels used on the islands.

Scotch whisky produced between isles of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides is set to be distilled using energy powered by the tide in a new project.

Nova Innovation will install a series of underwater turbines in the Sound of Islay, between Islay and Jura, as part of the Oran na Mara project.

The tide and turbines will create renewable energy to power local Scotch whisky distilleries and replace fossil fuels used on the islands.

A graphic of how the tidal turbine will work
How the tidal turbine will work in practice (Handout/PA)

As well as having no impact on the landscape above sea level, the turbines have also been designed to ensure there are no hazards for ships and the marine environment.

Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation CEO, said: “We are excited by the opportunity to combine Scotland’s rich whisky heritage with the immense power of the tide in the Sound of Islay.

“Tidal energy can play a huge role in decarbonising the whisky industry and ensuring a sustainable future for Scotland’s island communities.

The tidal turbine
A Nova tidal turbine

“The Oran na Mara tidal array has the potential to pair one of Scotland’s largest and world-leading exports – whisky – with world-leading and internationally exportable tidal power technology.”

Islay and Jura are currently home to 10 of Scotland’s distilleries, with the whisky industry one of many adapting to the country’s commitment of net zero emissions by 2045.

AJ Cunningham, operations manager at the Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay, said: “This tidal energy project is really encouraging news for Islay and the potential of energy sourced locally and renewably.

“In order to decarbonise our activities, access to a clean and continuous supply of energy such as tidal power, could help support our carbon zero ambitions.”

Michael Russell, Argyll and Bute MSP, also welcomed the news, saying: “It is good to see two success stories coming together.

“Whisky is a global brand and Islay is at the heart of that international industry; our renewable sector is also attracting world attention and the waters around Islay have huge potential.

“The combination of the two shows the innovation and imagination for which Scotland is also famed and I am delighted to welcome this news.

“It will help decarbonise Islay, but it will also give an example of good practice which will be widely recognised and applauded.”

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