Can Microgrids Empower New Optimism for Cannabis Sustainability?

by | Jan 14, 2022

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

Electric bills can add up on cannabis farms with intricate HVAC equipment, grow lights, and other necessities. Microgrids can cut these costs by relying on sustainable technology to provide the required energy for cultivation.

What Are Microgrids and Why Are They Important?

As the world's urban population increases, the strain on power grids causes them to threaten to buckle under the demand. Recent issues with the Texas power grid serve as a clear illustration of the coming catastrophes that may hit whenever. As independent sources of energy, microgrids may present a solution to these potential woes.

Relying on clean sources of energy, such as wind or solar, microgrids either wholly supply or supplement the energy requirements of a building. Several municipalities have passed laws encouraging the creation of microgrids through restrictions on emissions. By including turbines, solar panels, and other eco-friendly means of energy production, engineers can change the profile of architectural development.

Other options for microgrids could include geothermal energy production, sustainably sourced ethanol, or hydroelectric devices. The emphasis is on independent, local production, and sustainable creation. In theory, savvy farmers could even use their own cannabis biodiesel to power their microgrid. It’s not an inconceivable notion.

Since 2012 microgrids use increased fivefold. As the global supply chain proves to be vulnerable to disruption, the use of microgrids will likely continue to increase over time. Not only can these sorts of grids prove more stable, but more economical over time – bypassing middlemen such as utility companies.

Also, as time goes on, the public becomes more aware of the environment. Microgrids allow those conscious of their environmental responsibility to ensure reliance on green energy.

Losing Power Can Mean Losing Everything

To grow cannabis means to manage an environment for the plants twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A power outage could ruin an indoor farm. Any time an HVAC system goes down, the entire crop is at risk. Without the proper ventilation, a crop can succumb to pathogens or other pests or generally suffer from a lack of the right environment.

Microgrids can address this issue by offering independence from the larger power grids. Rather than being at the whim of the larger system, a farm utilizing independent power could ensure the survival of the crops through the production of its energy. In any area already experiencing energy instability, microgrids could prove invaluable.

While these benefits are ideal to have in a city, there's little reason one couldn't move them elsewhere. It would be even more desirable to have an independent grid in a remote location. Often, rural infrastructure is spotty and tenuous to get repaired or even installed. Microgrids allow for a level of independence from utility companies that can ensure the health of an operation.

Additionally, owning the means of production means first access to the energy produced. While working on a city grid means that power can be throttled and withheld, a microgrid directly serves the producer. There's no competition for demand as it's produced in-house to be consumed in-house.

Are Microgrids Right for the Cannabis Industry?

Considering the instability of the larger power grids in general, microgrids are an attractive option for cannabis cultivators. Downsides include setting up a system for energy creation, but as long as the environment provides an opportunity, then accessing energy creation should be simple enough.

While location certainly does matter, the technology behind green energy has steadily improved over the last few decades. Now, even if the setting isn't perfect, there should still be viable options to harness the available energy around. Thus, even if it's not the best setup possible, any level of independent energy production can save costs and build independence. Additionally, microgrids can continually expand into larger systems, so starting small is never a bad idea.

It wouldn’t be so surprising to see microgrids become the standard for urban and rural farms alike. With benefits that include improving their environmental footprint, cutting costs, and protecting against rolling blackouts, farmers could see microgrids as a way to keep their business thriving. Additionally, the independent spirit of cannabis farmers means that such solutions will prove inherently attractive to the majority of cultivators. Microgrids may very well become the future of cannabis sustainability and production, and the industry would indeed benefit from embracing alternative power sources.