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"Cannabis growers will have to refocus their goals to managing energy usage"

The cannabis industry continues to grow in the US as more states legalize it. With 38 states already approved for medical cultivation and 21 states approved for recreational use, the industry is projected to increase by 22% in 2022 from 2021 to a market value of over 35 billion dollars. As the industry grows, more eyes are on the operations of the growing process.

Greenhouse cannabis growers spend on average $256/lb to grow the product and sell it for $700/lb on average, resulting in a 63% profit margin. When growing cannabis, as you increase your light intensity, you linearly increase your yield beyond natural saturation limits. In other words, the more light the crop sees, the higher your yield is going to be. Since cannabis is a high-value crop, growers are willing to spend more on the energy to increase the yield. But those days are likely to be coming to a close.

With the increase in energy demand to support cannabis production in greenhouses and indoor facilities, energy regulations are being put in place to manage this consumption. Places like Maine and Wisconsin have limited the intensity of supplemental lighting systems to 36 watts/sqft2. As the industry matures, more regulations will be implemented to improve a commercial operations' resource use and its efficiency.

Aside from the state governments getting involved to help manage the energy load, the cost of energy is also on the rise. In 2021 the United States saw the largest increase in the cost of energy since 2008, increasing 4.3% from 2020. In 2022, prices continue to increase as current events, such as the war in Ukraine, are driving the costs of energy even higher.

With these increases in energy costs and more stringent regulations, cannabis growers will need to refocus their goals from simply increasing yield to managing energy usage.

Here are a few things that cannabis growers can do as the marketplace gets more competitive and local/stage governments start to put more controls in place.

- Move from just a yield focus to a more holistic approach. Better energy management will result in lower costs, making them more competitive in the ever-growing market as well as cutting down on their carbon footprint. More importantly, taking a holistic approach today ensures that you're ahead of the coming changes in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

- Convert your older HPS lights to LED lights. Switching to LED lights is proving to be more efficient, and they give off less heat. Growers would benefit from lowering energy use with efficient lights and lowering HVAC use. There are also many local and national programs in place to help growers convert their facilities to LED lights.

- Implement an adaptive lighting platform across your facility. Using a system like Candidus can help you manage your energy usage based on the daily light integral required by your crops and the amount of sunlight entering the greenhouse. Candidus also has a slew of other lighting strategies that can help growers automatically optimize their plants using different lighting intensities. This could result in a decrease of 20-40% in energy use without seeing a drop in production, enabling you to survive today's competitive marketplace.

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