By Lee Hoffman and Liana Feinn

Growing four pounds of marijuana at an indoor facility can consume as much electricity as  the average American home uses in a year. Cannabis growth is now responsible for 1% of all U.S. electricity consumption per year, and this consumption is expected to increase to 3% by 2035. 

Put another way, a cannabis grow operation can utilize as much power as a data center, so on-site solar energy generation can significantly lower a cultivator’s operational expenses. 

Growing Cannabis Takes A Lot Of Energy

Cannabis is typically grown indoors to better control temperature, lighting, and moisture levels. While indoor grow facilities are more conducive to growing quality cannabis, they use eighteen times more energy than outdoor facilities because the plants require continuous lighting and specific atmospheric conditions. Indoor grow lamps produce large amounts of heat, requiring air conditioning systems to keep warehouses cool. Commercial-scale dehumidifiers and water pumps are also necessary for proper irrigation and to mitigate mold growth, one of the largest issues when it comes to cultivating cannabis for consumption. 

This astounding amount of energy usage is evidenced by the statistics reported in Denver, Colorado, which show a 45% load growth on its grid following the legalization of marijuana in the state. Similarly, Pacific Power Utility of Portland traced 7 blackouts to cannabis production facilities following legalization. Some localities have since imposed an electricity tariff on growers. Boulder, Colorado, now requires commercial growers to pay $2.16 per kilowatt hour or to use renewable energy systems to reduce their loads. The City of Arcata, California imposed a 45% tax on residences that use more than 600% …

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