The cultivation industry has grown immensely over the past few years and shows no signs of stopping, with product demand only increasing along with legalization in more states. However, with the growth in demand comes the growth in energy consumption, which can eat away at the environment while making production costs skyrocket. Keep reading to find out how solar power has become a leading option in managing the carbon footprint produced by modern cultivation businesses.
Benefits of Solar Power in Cultivation
Switching to solar-powered cultivation brings with it a variety of benefits across different areas, from reducing costs and environmental impact to boosting the quality of the product. Below, we have outlined just a few of these benefits, with the list expanding rapidly as more and more businesses begin to make the switch.
Solar power provides benefits to the growing process in terms of reducing costs, increasing production quality, and helping all the moving parts work together more seamlessly. It can be used to power both indoor and outdoor facilities, thus drastically reducing electricity costs while also lessening the impact on the environment.
Though cultivation mostly occurs indoors due to the need for strict environmental control, there are still quite a few outdoor operations that require power as well. Security is certainly a necessary amenity, as some studies have shown that nearly 1 in 2 dispensaries are robbed or burglarized. Solar power can take the place of electricity in making sure the security system is functioning properly at all times. It can also assist with irrigation, another essential aspect of maintaining the quality of the final product, as the plants require careful attention when it comes to watering.
The indoor benefits of utilizing solar power in cultivation are numerous. The environment must be regulated very strictly, requiring the use of various types of lights that can quickly eat up a huge amount of electricity. Artificial lighting (LEDs), fluorescent lights, metal halide lights, and high-pressure sodium lamps are just a few of the many light sources that together provide the perfect amount of heat and light to keep the plants thriving.
Along with lighting, the cultivation area also needs proper air conditioning, ventilation, CO2 injection, and dehumidification to ensure the plants stay strong and healthy. HVAC systems are essential in this process, pumping the greenhouse full of fresh air that facilitates photosynthesis and helps keep away pests and mold. Without these systems in place, the plants would struggle to survive as an excess of oxygen would fill the air, inhibiting their ability to photosynthesize and grow to their full potential. Solar power can provide energy for all of these systems, eliminating the need for high electric bills and carbon footprints.
Currently, cultivation is one of the world’s most energy-intensive agricultural enterprises. Let’s shed some perspective on just how much energy is used and the level of greenhouse emissions involved in production. The lowest emissions in the United States are those of cultivators located in Southern California, releasing 143 pounds of carbon dioxide per dried ounce of product. This is the equivalent of burning 7 gallons of gasoline for every ounce of product. Similarly, the highest emissions come from O’ahu, Hawaii with 324 pounds of carbon dioxide per ounce. This is the equivalent of driving a vehicle for about 370 miles.
With the cultivation industry growing rapidly, efforts have been taken to attempt to quantify its current carbon footprint. The most detailed and recent study was performed by Hailey Summers in March 2021. After analyzing data from across the United States, Summers and her team found that emission totals ranged from “2,283 to 5,184 kg CO2-equivalent per kg of dried flower.” They concluded that these emissions resulted largely from the intense environmental controls required to sustain the cultivation process, with lighting, temperature/humidity control, and carbon dioxide supplies consuming high quantities of electricity and natural gas.
Solar power eliminates the need to rely on electricity, natural gas, and other fossil fuel resources that leave behind an immense carbon footprint. The growth of the cultivation industry means that emissions will only continue to skyrocket unless the transition to solar power is made soon. If you are interested in what you can do to both help the environment and cut down on energy costs, Vulcan CG offers the most effective and environmentally friendly solar power designs that will decrease your environmental impact without breaking the bank.