CE+P and Industry

Return to News
CE+P News
October 12, 2023

Drip Irrigation Pilot Program Introduced To Achieve 30% Reduction in Water Requirements For New Sugar Valley Energy Sugarcane Crop

Brawley, Calif. (Oct. 12, 2023) — Low-carbon energy developer California Ethanol + Power (CE+P) announced its team has planted sugarcane test crops using a water-saving drip irrigation system for its planned Sugar Valley Energy biorefinery and energy campus in the Imperial Valley. Projections and early results indicate drip irrigation will reduce overall water needed to grow the sugarcane crop by 30%, reduce fertilizer needs by 20%, while increasing the overall crop yield by approximately 12% per acre.

“Over the past several years we have successfully proven the viability of sugarcane production in the Imperial Valley by growing hundreds of acres of crops,” said CE+P CEO and President Dave Rubenstein. “Today, we are validating the conservation benefits and effectiveness of drip irrigation for our crops, to demonstrate that our growers will be able to meet the large-scale feedstock demands of our energy campus into the future.”  

Sugar Valley Energy (SVE) is a planned 160-acre campus in the late development stages and will encompass a refinery producing 77 million gallons of very low-carbon bioethanol annually from sugarcane, along with a power island that will create 43 MW of bio-electricity as well as 810 MMBtu annually of pipeline-grade biogas.

The demonstration crop is planted on land managed by Benson Farms, which has nearly a decade of experience growing high quality sugarcane in the Imperial Valley. While the region does not mandate the use of drip irrigation, farmers have begun employing such systems for growing lettuce, alfalfa and other crops, according to Benson Farms CEO Steve Benson.

Benson observed the drip irrigation pilot recognizes expected future drought conditions and the need to ensure a sustainable supply of water for its ultimate projected 50,000-acre sugarcane crop that will serve as feedstock. A recent agreement between the Colorado River lower basin states has established a vision for conservation efforts and improved long-term clarity and confidence in the ongoing water allocation to the valley.

The project team’s research indicates the water and raw material efficiency benefits associated with drip irrigating the sugarcane crop will translate to a carbon pathway for the ethanol product below its current estimated CI score of 21, once the state air resources board certifies the updated methodology. Research and guidance to the SVE agricultural program is being provided by a team that includes international agribusiness consultants Booker Tate Ltd. and Sacramento-based Lifecycle Associates.

About California Ethanol + Power (CE+P)

CE+P is a development company that intends to develop, construct, operate and own numerous facilities that will convert locally grown sugarcane into Essential Ethanol™ sustainable, renewable and extremely low carbon transportation fuel that will assist California in meeting its groundbreaking AB32 requirements. CE+P is committed to employing processes and equipment that are both commercially proven and financeable, while also meeting California’s stringent environmental regulations. CE+P also has identified promising potential products such as Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), renewable Hydrogen and Ammonia, using low carbon ethanol as a feedstock for fossil fuel-based chemical replacement, and developing low carbon drop-in fuel from sugarcane tops and leaves as an alternative to crude oil. For more information, visit www.californiaethanolpower.com.

For more information, please visit:

•     California Ethanol + Power, LLC (CE+P): https://www.californiaethanolpower.com/sve#the-imperial-valley

•     Sugar Valley Energy, LLC (SVE): https://www.californiaethanolpower.com/sve#the-imperial-valley


# # #