The State of Illinios recently enacted regulations that require medical and recreational cannabis producers to meet strict energy and water usage limitations. As a result of these regulations, clean energy and cannabis will be linked inextricably in the state.
Windmill Capital Management first wrote about the benefits of distributed clean energy resources, particularly cogeneration, for the cannabis industry some time ago. Not only are cannabis producers and processors large consumers of electricity, they also manage large thermal loads. Renewable energy not only reduces the environmental impact of the industry, but can also reduce costs and increase economic efficiency.
The new Illinois regulations place restrictions on water consumption and electricity use on indoor cannabis growers that are among the strictest in the nation. Ilinos sustainability requirements include:
- Use automatic watering systems
- Limit runoff water produced
- Collect, filter and reuse wastewater
- No more than 36 watts per square foot for lighting plants
- Use high-efficiency lights approved by the DesignLights Consortium
It is clear to see why state regulators are targeting cannabis. A report by New Frontier Data estimates energy use in cannabis legal states would jump 162% by 2022 if growers do not alter practices.
The case for clean energy
Adding distributed energy resources to cannabis growing facilities reduces production costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to electricity, cogeneration plants can be designed to generate other commodities consumed in cultivation. These may include carbon dioxide and distilled water. Using heat the cogeneration plant already generated allows these commodities to be produced at no incremental cost.
Legal cannabis, being a relatively new industry, has a unique opportunity to expand while taking advantage of the latest clean energy technologies. Windmill Capital Management believes it is important for the clean energy and cannabis industries to work together to minimize the environmental impact of commercial cannabis. We encourage clean energy developers and cannabis producers to contact us to learn more.