This summer, the planet is experiencing record-breaking heatwaves that are endangering agriculture, economic activity, livelihoods, and even national security and the country’s energy portfolio. California Lightworks CEO George Mekhtarian, a former Silicon Valley engineer who started his company to develop LED lighting systems for cultivators, says that LEDs can play a pivotal role in combatting the climate crisis.
“Upgrading old HID lighting systems to high-efficiency LEDs is a simple way to combat climate change and ease the strain of sweltering summer heatwaves across the country,” said Mekhtarian.
The Washington Post revealed more than 100 million people in the United States were subjected to record-high heat alerts as heat has soared as high as 115 degrees. Cities have declared states of emergency, pollution advisories due to dangerous levels of ozone have piled up, and wildfires have raged as a result of blistering heat.
In California, to ease the strain on California’s energy grid, the state authorized the Market Access Program as a strategy to reduce peak demand and mitigate rolling blackouts. The program authorized $150 million to incentivize projects that contribute to energy savings. There are no cost caps and no product restrictions.
“Growers in California have no time to waste. Once the incentives dry up, that’s it,” said Mekhtarian. “We want to make sure that businesses understand that these funds can be used to upgrade outdated lighting systems, like HPS or Metal Halide, to advanced LED lighting systems like our MegaDrive for little or no cost.”
“By upgrading to LEDs, growers in California are not only helping prevent rolling blackouts, but they are also improving their bottom line by reducing utility costs, increasing yields and margins. All this while reducing their carbon footprint and minimizing climate impact, it’s a triple win,” added Mekhtarian.
Compared to the grow operations outfitted with traditional high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights, California Lightworks’ MegaDrive increases the yield (both in terms of pounds per square foot and pounds per watt) and quality of the crop. MegaDrive LED technology reduces fixture costs by up to 30% and installation by up to 80%. In addition, these benefits come at a 50% lower operating cost compared to traditional HPS lighting systems.
The spectrum and dimming controls can be integrated with third-party greenhouse environmental systems or independently using a unique touchscreen and wireless solutions.
“MegaDrive installations are great because you have no power electronics in fixtures. Power units that drive and control the lights are installed away from the growing area, even up to 300 feet from the fixtures,” added Mekhtarian. “The system also simplifies tuning light spectrum and intensity, saving energy and increasing yields. The lighting simulates sunrise and sunset and allows for daylight balancing automatically via photosensors. With no power electronics in the fixtures, the lights become robust and ideal for humid environments.”
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