How it Works

CE&P will apply state-of-the-art but commercially proven technologies, equipment and systems to produce fuel-grade ethanol and electricity.

CE&P will propagate its own seed sugarcane from proven varieties and contract for the growing of its sugarcane feedstock. To plant a new field, billets (which are 18- to 24-inch sections cut from mature sugarcane stalks) are planted in closely spaced groups of three in rows 60 inches apart. The billets grow into mature 8- to 11-feet high stalks in 9 months. Each acre of mature sugarcane yields enough seed sugarcane to plant up to six acres of new sugarcane growth. The mature sugarcane is then mechanically harvested by cutting the stalks an inch or two above the roots.

The remaining roots with an inch or two of stalk, or "ratoons," are then re-grown to maturity in another 9 months, at which point the stalk can be harvested again. This process can be repeated several times with successive cuttings referred to as "first ratoon, second ratoon," and so on. Based on extrapolation from sugarcane grown in Texas and Louisiana, as well as Imperial Valley experience, CE&P is conservatively projecting that each sugarcane stand will remain productive through the planting year and five ratoons. Unlike annual crops such as corn, sugarcane is replanted every 5-7 years.

After being mechanically unloaded from the delivery trucks, the sugarcane will be shredded to open up the juice-containing cells, and pressed to extract 97% of the juice. The extracted juice goes through treatment, fermentation and distillation to produce ethanol, with carbon dioxide as a co-product. The left-over mass of shredded stalks, called bagasse, will be used to produce steam for plant operations, and will also generate a substantial amount of electricity for internal use and sale into the California electrical grid. The field residue (the tops and leaves of the sugarcane plants) may be used as forage or additional energy production.