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Assessing economic and environmental benefits of dedicated energy cane using a simulation tool: ReefCane®

Masson J., Lejars C., Fusillier J.L., Auzoux S., Poser C.. 2016. In : Proceedings of the 29th Congress of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. Chiang Mai : ISSCT, p. 1655-1664. ISSCT Congress. 29, 2016-12-05/2016-12-08, Chiang Mai (Thaïlande).

Today, the use of sugarcane bagasse to produce electricity is widespread in the sugar industry. The use of a whole-stalk harvester, in a dedicated industrial production unit, is new. This new industry and the cultivation of energy cane could provide economic benefits for producers and industry, as well as an environmental benefit for the community. It could also be an opportunity for territories that depend on imports to reduce their dependence on imported energy. ReefCane®, a simulation tool, was developed specifically to assess the financial feasibility and environmental benefits of different production and management scenarios for electricity production. The tool is made up of two parts: (a) the first assesses the price of cane and the price of electricity that would be financially feasible, and computes possible profits for growers and millers; (b) the second evaluates the environmental balance using Life Cycle Assessment. This modelling approach was used tested one hypothesis in Réunion. Simulations highlighted the usefulness of the tool to assess the feasibility of this new industry. Simulations calculated for a 5 MWe power plant: (i) the price of electricity necessary to reach internal net returns around 8% depending on different yields; and (ii) the amount of CO2 equivalent emission avoided by the establishment of a cane energy sector compared to the current energy mix in Réunion.

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