Rory Savatgy

Report: Indoor Cannabis Grows as Energy-Intensive as Data Centers

According to new data by EQ Research, indoor cannabis grows are as energy-intensive as data centers, with energy intensities of 2,000 watts-per-square-meter — “50 to 200 times more energy-intense than a typical office building.”

According to the report, lighting, air conditioning, and venting and dehumidifying represent 88 percent of all energy used during an indoor grow. In 2014, such grows represented 0.4 percent of Colorado’s electric usage; however, according to the Public Service Company of Colorado, marijuana businesses have been growing by about 40 percent to 60 percent annually, which means cannabis cultivation might have accounted for 1.4 percent of the state’s energy usage in 2015. Washington’s Northwest Power and Conservation Council estimated that grows used 1 percent of the total energy demand in the state in 2014. According to the report, the utility bills for cultivators can range from $3,000 to $100,000 per month.

Because canna-businesses are prevented from accessing financial institutions, they are not able to qualify for tax deductions when installing more energy efficient systems, and smaller operators might not have the capital to invest outright.

“The financing they receive to build or expand their businesses comes with extremely high-interest rate loans — anecdotally, as much as 15 to 20 percent — meaning producing marijuana in high quantities is paramount,” the report states. “This discourages marijuana growers from spending more to install energy-efficient equipment or on-site renewable generation, such as solar panels.”

The authors suggest that energy companies in legal states begin tailoring energy-efficient rebate programs that cater to the cannabis industry and that governments include clean energy language in their cannabis policies.

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