In this photo provided by LSU AgCenter, Renee Castro, LSU AgCenter area agriculture agent, examines shredded and browned tops of sugarcane that was impacted by Hurricane Ida's strong winds in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, in 2021. Player Designs Inc. of Presque Isle is leading work on a Louisiana plant that will create fuel pellets out of sugarcane waste. Credit: Olivia McLure / LSU AgCenter via AP

A Presque Isle firm will design and lead construction on a Louisiana company’s $100 million renewable fuel plant.

Delta Biofuel of Jeanerette, Louisiana, has chosen Player Design Inc. to help engineer and supply a facility that will turn sugarcane residue — called bagasse — into fuel pellets that will be used to produce electricity.

The Louisiana plant is expected to be the first in North America to use bagasse to create this type of fuel for industry, according to Player Design.  

Louisiana was the country’s top sugarcane producer in 2022, harvesting nearly 500,000 acres, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. For comparison, that’s about 10 times the potato acreage Maine harvested last year.

About a third of the sugarcane ends up as fibrous waste, or bagasse, according to ScienceDirect. Some companies use the waste to make compostable packaging to replace plastics. Delta Biofuels will turn that bagasse into pellets to fuel electricity plants.

maine biofuel production plans

Delta Biofuel chose the Presque Isle firm to supply the dryers and energy system, but then asked the company to do all the engineering, procurement and construction work for the $100 million project, according to Tyler Player, mechanical engineer and company owner.

Construction is underway, and when complete, Delta’s plant will turn out an estimated 340,000 metric tons of bagasse pellets a year, Player Design officials said.

Tyler Player also operates K-Pel Industrial Services in Fort Fairfield and MaineFlame Inc. in Ashland. Earlier this year MaineFlame announced plans for a $7 million expansion of its compressed log business in Ashland.

maine biofuel production plans

Player Design specializes in biomass and renewable energy, and builds energy systems that use multiple alternative fuels as well as specialized rotary drum dryers for pellet production, according to its website.

Used for power generation, the bagasse pellets will cost less and produce less greenhouse gas than other biomass fuels like wood pellets, according to Delta Biofuel.

Neither Player nor Delta representatives were immediately available for comment.

In a statement on the Louisiana website of Gov. John Bel Edwards, CEO Phil Keating said the new plant would resolve sugarcane waste problems and cut down on emissions.