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Warmed rum: Planning green light for UK’s first geothermal rum distillery

Credit: Grimshaw Architects Image:

Credit: Grimshaw Architects

Outline planning permission granted for Celsius facility in Cornwall, which plans to harness geothermal energy to produce rum

The UK’s first geothermal rum distillery and cask maturation facility could be coming to Cornwall, after the ambitious project was this week granted outline planning permission by the Cornwall Council.

Celsius, the Sustainable Distillery Research Centre, is set to be built on the edge of what was formerly the United Downs landfill site, next to where Geothermal Energy Ltd (GEL) is planning to begin producing zero carbon, renewable power from 2022.

Celebrating the Council’s vote of confidence in the project, Matt Clifford, Cornwall Geothermal Distillery Company’s founder, said: “What a message to the G7 delegations and world media examining climate change and green job creation here next month that Cornwall is the place to invest in renewables – all supported by our local and national governments and business leaders.”

Under the proposals, waste heat would be piped from GEL’s geothermal plant directly into the Celsius centre, where pioneering heat pump technology – currently in development by the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC) and engineers Buro Happold – would boost its temperature. The heat will then operate both a copper still for distilling rum and a facility to ‘geothermally’ mature rum in casks.

CGDC said the net result would be “one of the most sustainable carbon neutral distillery projects in the UK”.

The £5m research and development project is the evolution of over two years work, and enjoys the support of the UK government’s Green Distilleries Competition, in which it won the highest single award in phase 1 of £75,000.

Nick Boid, an associate of Buro Happold, said the project was a “landmark step” in boosting the sustainability of the distillery industry. “Through using waste industrial heat and renewable power we can begin to decarbonise this sector – and the Celsius centre will act as a pioneering project to show how this can be done,” he said.

Former South Crofty tin miner and local councillor, Mark Kaczmarek, who lives near United Downs site and has been closely following the progress of the geothermal projects said that “once again Cornwall is forging a global technological way”.

“I’m excited that this part of the world is becoming the first in Britain to use deep geothermal energy as a main source of power and I’m delighted that CGDC has chosen Cornwall to invest in and create much-needed green, quality jobs as we grow sustainably out of the pandemic,” he said.

The news comes in the same week as trade body REA published a major new report exploring the economic and environmental potential of deep geothermal energy projects in the UK. It argued that if the government were to introduce a

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