Renergie, Inc. was recently chosen to receive $1.5 million in funding from the Florida's Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program.
The recipient will design and construct Florida’s first sweet sorghum mechanical harvesting system and sweet sorghum-to-ethanol plant. Once in operation, the plant will be capable of producing five million gallons of ethanol annually.
The project will lead to the development, construction and operation of a commercially viable large-scale decentralized network of sweet sorghum-to-ethanol production plants.
Sweet sorghum’s water requirement is one-third that of sugarcane, is resistant to drought and can be grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand. Sweet sorghum takes approximately four months to reach maturity, allowing for harvesting twice a year.
Most ethanol production has been centered around the midwestern states since that is where the most corn is grown. Sweet sorghum is a plant that is better suited for southern climates and could become the feedstock of choice for ethanol production throughout the southern region of the country.
Since most sweet sorghum is grown to produce sorghum syrup, it might also be possible for plants to be built that could produce either syrup or ethanol depending on market conditions. That would give producers added flexibility and could help to ensure that oversupply doesn't happen for either product.