Cannabis Cultivation Leaves Behind a Large Energy Footprint
As cannabis continues to become legal throughout the United States, some specialists are suggesting that growers need to make their operations greener.
New Frontier, a data analysis firm, released and highlighted the massive energy footprint left by cannabis cultivation along with methods to make production more energy-efficient.
Electricity is the number one expense growers are faced with and it generally meets or exceeds the leasing cost of the growing space per month during production.
New Frontier pulled data from cannabis industry businesses, government agencies, and consumer studies and the results are distressing.
Research suggests that cannabis production in the United States is responsible for the same amount of electricity used by 1.7 million homes. The total cost of energy usage in a cannabis operation is priced at $6 billion yearly.
While indoor growing offers a multitude of benefits:
- The ability to control an indoor space allows for a very clean and hygienic environment
- Growers can control the climate avoiding issues with high humidity causing mold or a drought drying out plants
- Multiple harvests can be artificially conceived per year equaling more revenue
- Indoor growing prevents pest infestations
It also requires a large amount of electricity. Aside from artificial lighting, indoor growing facilities require dehumidifiers, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
What the report is saying is it will be unsustainable to attempt to maintain the cost structure that is driven by such high energy usage. As of now, energy costs are equal to half of the wholesale prices of marijuana. As wholesale prices fall, energy and total production costs will rise.
At this point, it's economically and environmentally essential to use less energy and there are ways to make it happen.
- Growers can move production outdoors or into greenhouses. However, it's important to note that this depends on environmental conditions, local laws prohibiting outdoor growing, and the risks of using pesticides to protect outdoor marijuana.
- Installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Instead of relying on high-intensity discharge lamps switch to uniquely designed LED lights and induction lights which use magnets to transmit electricity.
- Evaluating and analyzing energy by installing smart meters to determine where the most energy is being expended.
- The buildup that settles into dehumidifiers and air conditioning systems cause equipment to work harder to run and requires frequent filter changes. Grow room air filtration scrubs the air and removes contaminants prolonging HVAC filter life and allows machinery to run as efficiently as possible.
To find out the approximation of your energy usage, check out this cannabis cultivator calculator provided by The Oregon Department of Energy.