Energy Gluttony of Cannabis Industry Reaches Breaking Point

NEW YORK: A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory revealed that legal indoor marijuana-growing operations are highly energy intensive, and are responsible for an alarming percentage of the nation’s total energy use. In California, the top-producing state, indoor cultivation uses about 3% of all electricity use. A single cannabis cigarette represents 1.5 kg (3 pounds) of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to driving a fuel efficient hybrid car 22 miles, or keeping a 100-watt light bulb on 24-hours a day.

This energy use can account for as much as 50% of a grower’s total overhead, and is detrimental to the environment – taking the “green” out of the growing marijuana industry.

In order to reduce this energy drain, the team at Scale Energy Solutions devised a new type of “Micro-Grid” that integrates clean technology solutions into indoor cannabis grow facilities, to significantly lower energy use and reduce environmental impact.

“The cannabis industry is now using six times more energy than the pharmaceutical industry, and this paradigm is not sustainable,” says Timothy Hade, Co-Founder of Scale Energy Solutions. “Our new approach to energy reduction not only slashes costs for growers, but also improves the industry’s total environmental footprint, which in the long run will increase its chance of acceptance at a national level.”

Some companies are touting energy-saving LED lighting as a means to lower energy costs, but this addresses only a small part of the overall problem, Hade said. Additionally, many growers say that LEDs do not perform as well as the high-pressure sodium or metal halide lamps, especially when the plants began producing flowers – the valued part of the yield, according to the New York Times.

Scale Energy Solutions is one of the only company’s the provides a comprehensive solution, by essentially re-engineering a grower’s energy grid.

“We provide a way for cultivators to reduce operating costs and improve profit margins in an increasingly commoditized market,” Hade said. “By applying new technologies to cannabis growing, we create a truly greener industry.”

Pacific Power, Portland General Electric Say Indoor Marijuana Grows Straining Oregon’s Electrical Grid

OREGON:  Indoor growing operations for legal marijuana businesses are causing problems for Oregon’s electrical grid, according to officials from a state electrical utility company.

Pacific Power said Wednesday that grow operations have taken grids above capacity, blowing out seven transformers since July and causing outages and equipment damage, the Statesman Journal reported.

The problems are a remnant of marijuana’s black market past, when substandard electrical work powered the lights at growing sites.

Portland General Electric has had similar problems, according to spokesman Steve Corson. He said anecdotal reports from PGE crews show about 10 percent of their transformer blowouts are from growing operations, with about 400 blowouts each year.

Regulating Water Use By Pot Farms

CALIFORNIA: The California Assembly plans to hold an unprecedented hearing on April 15 to examine a proposal to regulate a controversial, billion-dollar state crop: marijuana.

At first glance, Humboldt County Assemblymember Jim Wood’s proposed regulation bill, the “Marijuana Watershed Protection Act” looks innocuous: It would add a single paragraph to the state’s water code, and one to the health and safety code. But, in truth, AB 243 represents a groundbreaking new vision for the future of California cannabis agriculture — especially when it comes to water use.

Utilities Struggle To Control Appetites In Energy-Hungry Marijuana Industry

WASHINGTON:  Kurt Nielsen is on a strange assignment, especially for a public employee. As the manager of the Lighting Design Lab, which is a spinoff of Seattle’s power company, he has been tasked with finding energy-efficient lights for the growing of marijuana.

Most of the country’s legal cannabis farming, in Washington and Colorado, is happening indoors and under scorching-hot lights. Washington state has issued licenses for the cultivation of 1.2 million square feet of cannabis “canopy,” as it’s called, since voters approved its production and sale for recreational purposes two years ago.

But neither state has given much thought to where the energy will come from.

Nielsen has been looking for a while now and declared that the efficiency quest is “a wild goose hunt.”

“This has become a major issue with most of the regional utilities, now that we have legalized the recreational use of cannabis in this state. There is a huge new industry that’s popping up, grow operations. They’re getting as much as 200 watts per square foot of lighting power density, which is astronomical,” he said. “How are they going to handle and manage this industry?”

Utilities and energy officials in Washington and Colorado indicate they are deeply worried about serving their new set of energy-intense customers while not running afoul of federal drug laws. The intertwined relationships between state and federal governments mean that acting to lower marijuana’s energy usage could endanger millions of dollars in federal grants or electricity deliveries from federal hydroelectric dams.