Cane produces sugar and alcohol and also electrical energy through its fibrous residue known as bagasse.
Bagasse burnt in a boiler produces steam and electricity: this is known as cogeneration. The energy produced from bagasse considerably exceeds the energy requirements of the production facilities, allowing the surplus to be sold to the network.
A fibrous residue from the crushing of sugar cane, bagasse is also an abundant source of energy.
In Brazil, Guarani is developing cogeneration: At first, bagasse allowed the sugar factories to produce electricity for their own needs. Then, thanks to process improvements and an ambitious development program, the factories sold 750 GWh of bioelectricity to the Brazilian network in 2013-14.
During the sugar cane season in Réunion, Tereos supplies bagasse to the island's two thermal power plants. Without bagasse, the island would have to import 145,000 metric tons of coal. Bagasse currently provides one third of the island's renewable energy, i.e. 12% of Reunion’s electricity consumption.
In Mozambique, the boilers at the Marromeu sugar factory are also powered using this energy source. During the sugar beet season this not only meets the factory's own requirements, but also supplies electricity to the plantation's irrigation systems and to the local population.
In Europe, thanks to the development of methanization units, four facilities are now able to produce renewable energy from sugar beets. In 2014, two new methanization units came on-stream at the Artenay site in France and the Dobrovice site in the Czech Republic. This innovative process uses vinasse, a by-product of distillation, and is the first of its kind in the world.
The biogas it produces is used in the plant’s boilers, which reduces fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.