Indian sugar industries are transforming into multiproduct manufacturing sugar complexes to utilize every part of canes supplied to the factory and to improve the financial viability of the sugar industry. At present the sugar industry is in economic turbulence as the cane procurement price has increased substantially in the last decade, but the sugar price has not increased correspondingly. Higher cane price is inevitable due to increased cost of cultivation including harvesting charges and competition from other remunerative crops hence the sugar factories are looking for other options to sustain and improve the profitability. Most of the sugar factories have now converted into sugar complexes with the combined production of sugar, ethanol, cogeneration, bio-compost etc., Sugar mills are normally crushing for a period of around 150-180 days of the cane harvesting season.The other subsidiary units viz., distilleries and cogeneration are receiving the raw materials from the sugar mill viz., molasses and bagasse respectively during the cane crushing period.
The ancillary units are kept idle for the rest of the long period hence under-utilized for want of feed stock. Augmenting the feedstocks supply with the addition production and supply of biomass during the offseason will improve the capacity utilization to the greater extent. Recent advancement in conversion of lignocellulose into ethanol also requires additional biomass. Based on these requirements exclusive energycanes were developed which can be cultivated in the factory’s captive energy gardens for the year round supply of raw materials. A vast area available under marginal lands which are not suitable for sugarcane or other crop can be utilized for this purpose. Sugarcane (Saccharum spp. L.) and Erianthusarundinaceus (EA) belong to the Andropogoneae tribe belongs to C4 grasses that are known for their high efficiency of photosynthesis and biomass production. Hence for the development of biofuel canes or energycanes, EA and Saccharum spontaneum (SS) have recently emerged as top candidates for biofuel production. At ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore breeding for energycanes was started in the year 2009 and harvestable biomass, drymatter production, juice quality and fibre % cane were worked out in the segregating population to identify biofuel efficient canes. Two types of energycanes were contemplated based on the fibre content in cane and brix % in juice. The clones with >15% juice brix and >20% cane fibre were designated as Type I energycanes. While the juice can be used for direct fermentation in distilleries to produce alcohol, the bagasse will be used in the cogeneration unit for generating electricity. Type II energy canes should have >25% cane fibre and the juice brix should be <15%. This type of energycanes can be harvested as whole canes with trash and tops and directly fed into the boilers for producing electricity. A total of 21 energycanes were developed which are suitable for cultivation for the production of biomass under different agro-climatic conditions are as detailed below 1. SBIEC 11001 2. SBIEC 11002 3. SBIEC 11003 4. SBIEC 11004 5. SBIEC 11005 6. SBIEC 11006 7. SBIEC 11007 8. SBIEC 11008 9. IA 1167 10. IA 3135 11. SBIEC 13001 12. SBIEC 13002 13. SBIEC 13005 14. SBIEC 13007 15. SBIEC 13008 16. SBIEC 13009 17. SBIEC 13010 18. SBIEC 14001 19. SBIEC 14002 20. SBIEC 14003 21. SBIEC 14006 The identified clones are not recommended for cultivation under normal agroclimatic conditional as these clones should not compete with sugarcane for area. Hence it should be planted where any other agricultural crop cannot be profitably cultivated like low rainfall, water logging, saline and alkaline soils etc.,