Great Valley Energy, LLC Grant For the Development and Pilot Testing of Agricultural Feedstock Separation Technology
Great Valley Energy LLC will use an Energy Commission grant to help it test the feasibility of building bio-refineries to create fuel from a crop new to the Central Valley – sweet sorghum.
Grain sorghum can yield as much ethanol per bushel as corn, and can be used for food, forage and fiber as well as fuel. It is a salt-tolerant crop that needs one-third less water than California-grown cotton or corn, making it an ideal crop for parts of the San Joaquin Valley that suffer from salinity and boron contamination that render them unsuitable for food crops. Growing sweet sorgum could supplement already declining cotton acreage and could provide both agricultural and manufacturing jobs in areas of the Valley that suffer from unemployment rates as high as 20 percent.
Great Valley Energy plans to use all parts of the cane-like plant to produce high value co-products that could include sweeteners and syrup, cattle feed and fiberboard in addition to ethanol.
Great Valley Energy and its team partners will install a pilot sorghum separation and testing facility in Hanford. They will also analyze the economic feasibility and market potential of creating co-products and will plant sweet sorghum test crops in the San Joaquin Valley. If all the testing programs are successful, the team will consider building smaller-scale ethanol plants distributed across the Valley to be close to the sorghum fields in order to lower transportation costs. Each of the commercial refineries could create an additional 20 jobs.
The Project will develop Best Management Practices for sweet sorghum production, and will follow the Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Biofuel Production by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.
$2,000,270 from the project’s participants.
Great Valley Energy, LLC, a California-based company, was founded in 2006 to permit and build a biofuels facility in the San Joaquin Valley.
KTC Tilby, a partner in the project, is a Canadian-based company that engineers and manufactures mechanical separation systems for crops such as sugarcane, sweet sorghum, and hemp. Their sweet sorghum separation technology is critical to development of high-value co-products from the separated fractions of the plant, in addition to ethanol production.
Lang Technologies, another project partner based in Australia, is developing new food and fiber processing techniques that reduce water consumption by 30 percent and electricity consumption by up to 53 percent compared to conventional food processing techniques.)
Other participants include:
Jojack, Inc, a property management company based in Bakersfield.
Tapis Energy Group, a Colorado energy company providing strategic consulting, business management, and project development services for energy projects.
Lyles Construction Group, a construction company headquartered in Fresno.
The California Biomass Collaborative, a statewide collaboration of government, industry, environmental groups and educational institutions, administered for the state by the University of California, Davis and sponsored by the California Energy Commission and other agency and industry partners.
Pederson Farms of Kings County
By 2020, Great Valley Energy estimates it could have 15 small plants dispersed across the Valley, each capable of producing 3.15 million gallons of ethanol a year. The total annual production of more than 47 million gallons would, over an eight-year period, displace more than 7 million barrels of petroleum and reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of 1.6 million tons of CO2.
Sweet sorghum-based ethanol could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent when compared to gasoline, and Great Valley Energy believes its proprietary, energy-saving technology will lower the greenhouse gas footprint even further.
Successful completion of this project could provide the foundation for a substantial biofuels production capacity in the San Joaquin Valley beyond Kings County, providing manufacturing and farming jobs. Indirect land-use impacts will be avoided because sorghum can be grown on abandoned, salt-affected farm land using lower quality irrigation water. No food crops would be displaced. The plants would optimize energy and water use and would re-use the water produced from sorghum processing.
Grant Agreement Number: ARV-10-017