ERI Market Study on Indoor Cannabis Cultivation

Indoor Cannabis Cultivation Energy

With the NCIA Cannabis Business Summit around the corner, we wanted to provide some information that can be a resource to utilities, energy efficiency folks, industry vendors, and cannabis cultivators alike.

Earlier this year, ERI in collaboration with Southern California Edison (SCE) completed a Market Characterization of Indoor Cannabis Cultivation. This study focuses on fully indoor cannabis cultivation but also looks closely at greenhouses. Whether fully or semi-indoor, these facilities are highly energy intensive. They require a careful balance of energy-consuming systems including lighting, temperature, humidity, ventilation, and CO2.

SCE engaged ERI for this study to understand from key industry stakeholders where the market is headed, what they can expect for the southern California market and resulting grid impacts, what technologies are prevalent, who is involved, and what demand-side management strategies can be most effective to encourage energy efficiency for their cannabis customers.

This study examined the CEA industry with a focus on the potential for energy efficiency and GHG emissions reduction. ERI and SCE hypothesized a few key outcomes from this study, including:

  • The trends of the industry with cannabis as an emerging subsector in California.
  • Projections of energy consumption and load profiles of cannabis facilities which will bring impactful challenges to both supply side as well as demand side management.
  • Technology considerations beyond lighting – including HVAC, dehumidification, and controls – will be critical to address holistically. Controls can help to optimize facilities.
  • The cannabis cultivation market actors are highly concerned with production in terms of yields as well as quality. Any new technology considerations must be proven and present very little, if any, risk to maintaining optimal production.

ERI conducted interviews with industry stakeholders including growers, vendors, associations, and utilities. Interviews sought to understand the current practices involved, equipment used, trajectory of the industry, operational challenges, and technological priorities. Decision drivers and barriers to utilizing energy efficient equipment in CEA facilities was discussed in detail with stakeholders to obtain a vast range of perspectives.

Recommendations pertaining to energy efficiency program design and implementation were provided in the report. These include such items as baseline considerations, steps to stimulate market adoption, program components, technology assessments, and intervention strategies.

Key results included the assessment of energy savings and GHG reduction per facility and per technology (lighting, HVAC controls, etc), market potential, and assessment of barriers and solutions. These elements provide the foundation for action to improve how utility programs are designed and implemented for cannabis facilities.

The study was published to the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council website. Take a look at the study here and let us know what you think!