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The combined sugar and ethanol production process from sugar cane is a paradigmatic application for energy integration strategies because of the high number of hot and cold streams involved, the external hot utility requirement at two temperature levels for juice evaporation and crystallization, and the electricity demand for juice extraction by milling. These conditions make it convenient to combine the sugar cane process with a CHP system fuelled by bagasse, the main by-product from juice extraction. The strategies, tools and expertise on energy integration developed separately by the research teams authoring this paper are applied here jointly to optimize the synthesis and design parameters of the process and of the total site starting from the basic idea of dissociating the heat exchanger network design problem from the total site synthesis problem. In the first part of the paper the objective is the minimization of the external heat requirement for the process alone. Results show a one third reduction of the process hot utility requirement.