UK Malting Moves Towards a Greener Future: Protium and Bairds Malt Announce Initial Results of Partnership to Decarbonise UK Malting

— 4 min read
  • Bairds Malt and Protium announce the results of their industry leading partnership, aimed at decarbonising UK malting using green hydrogen.

  • Supported by grant funding from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (formerly BEIS), the partners have worked together with leading experts from the University of Nottingham and Imperial College (H2 Malt project consortium), to validate that hydrogen can be introduced into their malting process with no impact on product quality or safety.

  • Switching from natural gas to green hydrogen across the Bairds Malt portfolio could save over 40,000 tCO₂e annually and help Bairds Malt to reach their net zero goals.

The partners are now working on feasibility studies to develop the UK’s first green hydrogen powered malting site, to offer a 100% decarbonised malt product to the UK market.

Protium, the UK-based green hydrogen energy services company, have been working with Bairds Malt – a major UK based maltster who produces 280,000 tonnes of malt annually for the brewing and distilling industries, to develop a green hydrogen project that would allow Bairds Malt to achieve 100% decarbonisation of heat at one of its UK malting facilities in the future.

The partnership achieved a major milestone at the end of 2022 when, as a result of a grant funded study by the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, formerly known as the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the H2Malt project consortium successfully concluded its study to investigate the feasibility of switching from fossil fuel fired ‘air heaters’ to green hydrogen powered air heaters at Bairds Malt.

The results of this study have now revealed that hydrogen is a viable fuel option to deliver a net zero heat solution with using the existing site assets and with modest changes to existing equipment.

The work undertaken by the H2Malt consortium partners from the University of Nottingham and Imperial College showed that hydrogen could be used with no negative impact on product quality.

This project demonstrates the importance that innovative collaborations involving multiple industry leaders can have in finding deliverable net zero solutions and has the potential to save over 40,000 tCO₂e annually for Bairds Malt if implemented across its UK site portfolio.

The project also marks a flagship initiative for UK maltsters, whose current industry-wide emissions must fall from over 300,000 tCO₂e annually to achieve net zero for UK brewers, distillers and consumers. For this reason, the H2Malt partnership is a pathfinder project to guide UK Malting towards a net zero future.

Christopher Jackson, CEO of Protium, comments on this project:

 “We have been extremely fortunate to work with a client who is not only deeply committed to achieving net zero, but who is also collaborative and willing to share learnings across the sector to support others. It is our absolute pleasure to help support leading UK businesses like Bairds Malt to achieve net zero carbon emissions from their future operations using green hydrogen – a technology that we continue to believe is essential for achieving a net zero future for UK industry.”

Dr Richard Broadbent of Bairds Malt Ltd (Part of United Malt Group), adds:

 “H2Malt was an important project for Bairds Malt to prove the concept of utilising green Hydrogen in our existing kiln heating and barley drying equipment in the future. It has been a pleasure to work collaboratively with the H2Malt consortium members and I hope this work lays the foundation for hydrogen to be utilised in malting plants in the future.”

Prof. David Cook, Chair in Brewing Science at the University of Nottingham, adds:

 “It was great to be a part of the H2Malt consortium, bringing together the required expertise to demonstrate the contribution green hydrogen can make towards Net Zero for malting operations. At Nottingham we checked for potential impacts on downstream malt quality due to switching to 100% green hydrogen in a direct fired barley dryer. None were evident and we can thus recommend green hydrogen as an excellent decarbonisation strategy for the industry in this application.”

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