EQ Research has released information about the intense energy use in the booming U.S. marijuana industry and means to control GHG emissions. EQ Research is a relatively dry firm that produces research and analysis of national and state energy policies, an essentially wonky field of work. Their latest report takes aim at the intersection of a trending social concern going on in the United States which is in reference to increased indoor marijuana cultivation due to legalization at the state level – and energy.

Even though the levity of the title, A Chronic Problem: Taming Energy Costs and Impacts from Marijuana Cultivation describes a serious issue for energy and greenhouse gas eruptions. Because of the use of high-wattage lights and other growing equipment, indoor marijuana cultivation can have an energy power of 2,000 watts per square meter.

1,358 licenses have been issued for growing marijuana in the state of Colorado alone, and marijuana cultivation represented 2.2% of the electricity use in Denver back in 2014. EQ Research discovered various obstacles to cleaner, more efficient use of energy by the marijuana industry Initially, it states that utilities and state regulators require knowledge about how the industry uses energy and that the industry may not possess the savvy to engage public utility commissions.

The firm also pointed out the high cost of funds for marijuana businesses which limit the ability of these businesses to obtain solar and energy efficiency. Lastly, EQ Research states that a dispute between bringing down energy costs and maximizing crop yield and potency.

“The nature of the marijuana industry, which is both new and traditionally illegal, creates barriers in sharing information that lead to inefficient energy consumption,” notes the report.

“Organizations that may traditionally have a role in certifying equipment for efficiency and safety, or offer industry-specific energy guidance, may be barred or limited by policy from providing that function to the marijuana industry.”

In A Chronic Problem, EQ Research has given out recommendations to utilities, regulators, state and local government and the marijuana industry, as well as recommendations that utilities offer energy efficiency rebates and services that cater to marijuana growers.
EQ Research debates that this practice can disincentize the use of rooftop solar, battery storage and energy performance, as these systems are based on historical energy use. There is also the mandatory option.

The report indicates a requirement in both the city and county of Boulder, Colorado, under which marijuana cultivators must offset their energy use with either purchase of carbon offsets, membership in a community solar garden, or on-site renewable energy.

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