Scotland’s first biorefinery is well on its way to being built now, with the arrival of six purpose-built 130,000 litre fermentation vessels. 

These were constructed in the Netherlands for Celtic Renewables’ new plant in Grangemouth. 

The construction project was thrown off kilter by the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is now back on track to produce high-value low carbon biochemicals, and next generation biofuel from biological waste and residues. It is perhaps the first sign that Scotland’s goal of a low carbon green economy is closer to reality. 

Celtic Renewables will use microbiology expertise and modern process technology to produce around 50,000 tonnes of residues each year. And they will obtain the residues from the whisky industry, so adding value and sustainability to one of Scotland’s most important sectors.The whisky industry produces 1.6 billion litres of pot ale and 500,000 tonnes of draff which previously were used in animal feed.  Professor Martin Tangney OBE, Founder and President of Celtic Renewables, was acclaimed for his process for producing biobutanol, a sustainable advanced biofuel and renewable chemical, from the by-products of the malt Whisky industry – a process he is commercialising as the Founder of Celtic Renewables. Professor Tangney set up the first centre for sustainable biofuel development in the UK – The Biofuel Research Centre – at Edinburgh Napier University in 2007.

The former Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission Prof Dame Anne Glover DBE and Chair of the IBioIC, said: ”IBioIC has an ambitious plan to stimulate the growth of the biotechnology sector in Scotland to a £900 million industry by 2025, and Celtic Renewables is one of the key players in achieving this ambition. This major milestone in the construction of Scotland’s first biorefinery of this scale is not only great for the circular economy but also the wider green recovery. IBioIC is hugely supportive of this sustainability focused approach.”

Construction underway at Celtic Renewables Grangemouth Plant.

Professor Tangney said: “The biotechnology sector is based on innovation and Scotland excels in this aspect, but the really difficult part is converting research into production. This landmark event today signals our capability to deliver a thriving biotechnology industry in Scotland. As a business, we have always believed in the transformational impact of our technology and this is needed now more than ever as we battle with the economic impact of Covid-19.  We are delighted to be part of the vanguard of biotechnology innovation in Scotland and look forward to playing our part in growing a new sustainable bioeconomy.”

The plant is being built in the Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone boosted by the £90 million Growth Deal Funding to invest in infrastructure. 

Falkirk Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “Celtic Renewables are important partners in developing the Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone and we are delighted to have worked with them in to establish their plant at Grangemouth.  We have established a recovery plan for the area’s economy and the arrival of this new equipment to the site is a tangible sign of our commitment to a green recovery.  The Investment Zone looks to sustain and grow Grangemouth’s manufacturing sector in a way that is economically inclusive and contributes to net zero.  The recent announcement of £90million Growth Deal Funding will underpin our Investment Zone ambitions which include investing in infrastructure to support innovative businesses such as Celtic Renewables.”

Construction underway at Celtic Renewables Grangemouth Plant.