The first commercial-scale solar-powered cannabis farm is a “green” template for the industry to follow, says the company behind its creation.
Californian cultivator Canndescent spent $3.75 million retrofitting its 11,000-square-foot growing warehouse in Desert Hot Springs. The commercial-scale solar cannabis project uses 734 solar modules, on seven different carport structures, and can now produce enough power to charge an estimated 20% of U.S. smartphones for a day.
Canndescent founder and CEO, Adrian Sedlin, said in a press statement: “We commissioned the solar project because the modern cannabis consumer deserves and demands that we create exceptional products using exceptional practices.”
“As an industry coming of age right now, it’s natural and appropriate for the cannabis industry and Canndescent to lead the business community in addressing some of the world’s pressing challenges,” he continued.
The state-of-the-art, clean energy system has a capacity of 283 kilowatts and will reduce the facility’s annual carbon emissions by 365 tons. Two-thirds of U.S. commercial cannabis production facilities are indoor operations, while a further 20% are at least partially indoors. Indoor cannabis facilities require large amounts of energy for lighting, heating, air-conditioning, and dehumidification systems, said the press release.
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Indoor cannabis greenhouses are said to consume around 1% of US electricity, according to industry experts. Whilst outdoor growers tax local water resources. As the first cannabis company to use renewable power at a large-scale production facility, Canndescent says it has “created a ground-breaking template for sustainability… uniting water efficiency, energy efficiency and pesticide-free growing in an indoor format.”
Canndescent constructed the project in eight weeks after a two-year struggle to win approval and financing. The project consists of custom carport structures since solar could not be installed on the facility roof due to fire codes, reports Solar Power World.
Canndescent’s Chief Compliance Officer Tom DiGiovanni said: “Given the restrictions around cannabis banking and lending and the complexities of energy projects and California civil construction in general, this was extraordinarily difficult to pull off. Nevertheless, we got it done and have established a template for the ‘green industry’ to go greener.”
Canndescent was set up by Harvard Business School graduate Adrian Sedlin and opened the first municipally-permitted facility in California in 2016. Desert Hot Springs, where Canndescent is based, went bankrupt in 2001 and almost did again in 2014. The town then decided to become the first place in California to allow indoor cannabis farming on an industrial scale, and has experienced a renaissance since.
California legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018.
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