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Geothermal-powered rum distillery gets green light

Entrepreneur Matthew Clifford has received planning approval to build a new carbon-neutral rum distillery in Cornwall, UK, which will be powered by geothermal energy.

Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company's Celsius project
The site is thought to be the UK’s first geothermal-powered rum distillery

Former offshore helicopter pilot Clifford is the founder of the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company (CGDC). In November 2020, he submitted plans to the Cornwall Council for a new 100% sustainable rum cask maturation facility, visitor centre, cooperage and geothermal energy centre.

The site is thought to be the UK’s first geothermal-powered rum distillery.

Clifford has received approval to build ‘Celsius’ – the Sustainable Distillery Research Centre – on the edge of the former United Downs landfill site, near where Geothermal Energy (GEL) will be producing zero-carbon, renewable power in 2022.

Waste heat from GEL’s deep geothermal energy plant will go directly into the Celsius centre – where heat pump technology has been developed to alter the site’s temperature.

It will power a copper still for distilling rum and a facility to ‘geothermally’ mature rum in casks.

The facility will be able to accurately recreate the temperature and humidity profiles found around the world, including tropical, desert or the colder northern hemisphere. The dedicated site using this controlled and technological method is thought to be a world first.

“This is the most significant milestone our project has achieved and it makes Celsius very real,” said Clifford. “The concept and principle of the project is now formally established and has the official go ahead to proceed.”

The £5 million (US$7m) Celsius project will initially create six full-time distillery-related and research jobs including master blenders and coopers, as well as offering apprenticeships.

The Celsius project is the result of two-and-a-half years’ work, and is backed by the UK government’s Green Distilleries scheme, through which it received £75,000 (US$101,200) during phase one.

The project is now entering the second phase of the government-backed scheme.

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