Editorial Team   |   September 19, 2017

Mitigating Cannabis Power Intensive Requirements

Although hydroponic energy consumption data collection has led to recent concern about amounts used, sustainability has taken the driver’s seat in talks with the newest innovations in alternative sources of power.

Although hydroponic energy consumption data collection has led to recent concern about amounts used, sustainability has taken the driver’s seat in talks with the newest innovations in alternative sources of power.

Horticultural facilities utilize up to 1% of the total power consumption of the United States and consumption was expected to grow a few years ago.  However, consumption has actually waned over the years because of exponential leaps in cultivation efficiency.

Cultivation facilities are replacing hardware with highly efficient alternatives every 12 to 18 months, creating highly efficient grow rooms through smart insulation and HVAC technologies, producing less waste water and material and improving worker safety through improvements in fire protection and hazard considerations.

Sustainable energy practices through innovation does not only save the Earth but also creates money. Energy consumption takes between 20% to 40% of the cannabis growers’ income while the normalization of legal marijuana through a competitive environment has lowered the ceiling of probable revenue.

Improvements in lighting technology and understanding lighting needs cuts down on the production costs. Proper environmental impact assessment and mitigation of energy loss through energy efficient growing room designs and best HVAC practices not only helps in keeping the quality of cannabis high but also lessens the need to overcompensate beyond the minimum required energy to grow top quality products.

Energy solutions are popping up left and right and, though they are one of the solutions, the cannabis industry understands that this is not the only solution. Among the ones higher in current innovations include energy efficient LED lights that work only on a limited spectrum that encourages photosynthesis. Other solutions include re-engineering entire energy grids to utilize solar arrays and adding energy monitoring technologies that take care of energy use. This, however, is not enough to curb the drain that growing marijuana entails.

Beyond innovations, efficiency in sustainable cultivation through standard practices has moved the cannabis industry towards a green movement. Many of these standard practices include improvements in waste management, adding value to waste by recycling and forwarding any useful, compostable materials towards local non-cannabis farming sectors.

Strategies in production by taking advantage of peak demand can help mitigate high energy demand by up to a 22% reduction. Since cannabis cultivation facilities have different needs according to a cultivator’s requirements, these peak demands can only be measured by checking for the load factor of each facility and ensuring that they are running with utmost efficiency. This strategy entails the use of methods that are not only basic but also highly effective, including adjusting schedules of facilities to avoid consumption overlaps, moving lighting schedules at cooler periods or night if overlaps are impossible to alleviate and control the use of climate control and heat reduction equipment to avoid running too many at a time.

Creating energy efficiency regulations through consolidation efforts has added a net value to the need to write up certifiable standards of cultivation for cannabis growers. It can be easily surmised that, though the cannabis industry is still crunching up six times the power consumption of the pharmaceutical industry, this is not expected to go up in the future. Through efforts in sustainability, a plateau is expected in power usage even in the absence of a singular solution that can be pointed out by purveyors… and this is good.

The lack of a singular answer to the consumption issues ensures that cultivators do not stay complacent. Drawing up strategies, showing effort towards a greener cannabis energy and employing best practices is the best-case scenario, not only for the cannabis industry, but for everyone. It renders any cannabis grower that wants to succeed as an active member of the community and prevents a simple passive effort of paying money towards power production facilities. The need for self-policing is an integral part of the lasting push towards a better production cycle that adds money in the cultivator’s pockets while ensuring that they take care of the environment as an after-effect of efficiency. If an active, chain of operational innovations is what’s needed to help in the green movement and reduction of energy footprint, it is best to let more innovations take place.

 

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