Islay project to produce Scotch whisky by tidal power



A marine energy company has unveiled a ground-breaking project to produce Scotch whisky distilled by tidal power in the Sound of Islay.

Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation will install a series of underwater turbines between the isles of Islay and Jura in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, creating clean, renewable power generated by the tide that will displace fossil fuels used on the islands, and power local whisky distilleries.

The subsea turbines have no visual impact on the landscape, create no shipping or navigational hazard, and work in harmony with the marine environment.

The revolutionary 3MW ‘Òran na Mara’ project – Gaelic for ‘song of the sea’ – follows the success of Nova’s tidal power scheme at Bluemull Sound that has been powering homes, businesses and the grid in Shetland since 2016. 

Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation, 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.” 

Crown Estate Scotland (CES) has awarded Nova Innovation an Option Agreement for the project which enables the company to start its detailed development.

Mark McKean, development manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said Nova Innovation is taking one of the crucial next steps in Scotland’s renewable energy journey.

He said: “This project is a great example of how a local energy system might work – and we’re hopeful to see more of these types of projects around Scottish waters, creating new developments that will grow Scotland’s blue economy and push us closer to reaching the country’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045.”

Nova said it is committed to drawing on local expertise as part of the project.

Angus Colquhoun, engineering and risk manager at Distell, owners of Bunnahabhain Distillery on Islay, said: “Bunnahabhain Distillery is delighted that Nova Innovation has been awarded seabed rights for a tidal energy project on the Sound of Islay.

“This will generate potential opportunities to improve the sustainability of our energy sources with the construction of a tidal energy system on our doorstep. This has significant potential to support a raft of improvements that Bunnahabhain distillery is committed to making, to grow the sustainability of the iconic Scotch Malt Whisky brand and supporting the distillery to do its bit to help tackle the climate change crisis.”

AJ Cunningham, operations manager at 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.”

Simon Forrest, CEO of Nova Innovation, added: “The Òran 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.”



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