When you hear of Cannabis, what is the first thing that came to your mind? Kudos to researchers and technology, which has helped us to now begin to see Cannabis as a blessing, and that’s why in this article, I will be sharing on Cannabis and Electrical Revolution.
The ongoing trend of cannabis legalization in some countries is bringing about tremendous transformation in the usage of Cannabis in various ways. One o the vital thing we often overlook is the aspect of this trend in the impact on electricity usage and the resulting new load pressures on the grid, especially in remote and rural regions where the production of Cannabis & Hemp is ramping up.
These days, Cannabis production gets the most headlines due to the emergence of the CBD oil industry, yet it is just one part of a broader shift regarding where and how we grow agricultural products. In rural areas, Growing Concerns over food safety an the rising farm-to-table movement keep on driving the demand for the localized production of which its growing seasons vary and other climatic factors.
The upshot is that more production of agricultural produce, which includes Cannabis, is being shifted to more massive production factories and greenhouses, and this contributes to new demands on the power delivery system.
Why Cannabis Production is Spreading
The District of Columbia, alongside 33 states in the US, legalizes cannabis usage in some form. This has resulted in the exponential production of Cannabis. Most of those states have passed laws that endorsed the medical usage of Cannabis, while a growing number of these states allow for recreational use.
As a result of the prohibitive and climate cost due to indoor production in states where Cannabis is legal, the majority (about 90%) of marijuana grown in the US is produced outdoors. Outdoor production is near 100% in states like Kentucky, Hawaii, Washington, and Tennesse.
The method of production of Cannabis is more balanced in a state like Oregon, which is about 55% of outdoor production. Montana, with only 20% outdoor production, is at other ends of the spectrum.
Most states create additional pressure on producers by mandating a certain level of security on their operations. Producers set up indoor facilities and produce under tightly controlled conditions. And this is also extended to some states where climate conditions are favorable for outdoor production.
Power Demand is Growing High
A study conducted in the year 2014 from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, revealed that hundreds of producers in Washington had been given the license to produce Cannabis.
Cannabis growers create new power demand, which ranges between 80-163MW on the Northwest region’s system. The latest data available shows that the Northwest Region accounts for approximately 21% cannabis production within the US, while Washington is estimated to produce about 18%.
If we estimate the total power demand for cannabis products throughout the US by using these figures, it ranges between 381MW and 776 MW. Within the next two or say three years to come as production shoots up ib the states which legalized cannabis production recently.
Without any doubt, the demand will continue to grow as more states legalize Cannabis. It is therefore pertinent that this amount should deserve special attention from electric utilities. Although only about 10% of Cannabis is grown indoors in the US, the load profile for cannabis plant factories varies from 4 to 20 kilowatts. 5000 kilowatt-hours-per-kilogram is required for indoor growth as lighting alone accounts for 80% electricity usage.
The essential need for lighting for optimal growing conditions drives the production load.
A 1000-watt metal-halide lamp is required to lighten a vegetation room for every two to eight plants with lamps which needs to be on for at least 18 hours every day while the flowering room needs a supply of 1,000-watt high-pressure sodium ballast lamp for every two to three plant which needs to be on for at least 12 hours.
In addition to lighting, the ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems need to be set accurately with humidity and temperature setpoints, which requires each living room to have an air conditioning mini-split for every 1,000 square feet.
Of course, in reducing power demand, there is a need to utilize more energy-efficient lighting as power cost reduces, so does the economic incentive increases to switch to more controllable production methods.
In Washington, we calculated that changing to more efficient lighting has the potential to generate demand savings up 6MW by 2035. It should be noted that more efficient LED cost more than conventional lighting as the economics of switching to more efficient lighting may have an impact on these calculations.
Apart from the demand-side incentives that are available from local utilities, it is very likely that only growers of large scale cannabis will be in the position of absorbing additional costs of less power-intensive and more efficient lighting.
Cannabis production is just one aspect of a nationwide transformation of agricultural output.