New York is finally joining the slate of states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. It’s now legal for adults to possess up to 3 ounces of dried cannabis or 24 grams of concentrated cannabis products such as distillates, oils, and waxes. In addition to legalizing the possession, regulations are being formulated to allow cannabis sales to take place. This sweeping change is opening the doors for new revenue streams throughout the cannabis supply chain, and solar power can give business owners an edge when it comes to the growing stage.
A Long Road to Business Opportunity
The state of New York has had an uphill battle when it comes to legalization. Although medical marijuana has been legal since 2014, legislation advancing recreational use has floundered more than once. For example, the last notable collapse in negotiations in 2019 was caused by conflicts over regulation and revenue control.
However, legalization has finally been pushed across the line, and the new regulations are remarkably relaxed compared to other states. Washington has allowed recreational cannabis sales since 2012, but consumers can only purchase 1 ounce of plant matter or 7 grams of concentrate. This makes New York’s future recreational scene a unique opportunity for aspirational growers, as the bottleneck on dispensable supply is looser. Growers who want to cash in on New York’s new market should get started now to be ready when sales open sometime in 2022.
Making Better Headway With Hydroponics
Given the general lack of open land in New York, most growers will turn to hydroponic systems to produce their crops in water rather than soil. Although this method tends to yield more uniform and consistently potent final products, there’s one big issue with hydroponics: It’s a massive power drain. You can lose a significant amount of revenue if you don’t manage the system efficiently, and the local electrical grid also takes a big hit from these energy-intensive operations. Colorado, for example, saw cannabis manufacturing account for a whopping 4% of Denver’s electricity consumption in 2018. What is it about hydroponics specifically that makes it such a burden on the electrical system?
Lighting is the most critical element of a successful hydroponic cannabis operation. As photosynthesis is how plants grow, you need a lot of lights running at once to get the most from each seed. The problem is that you’re not dealing with regular reading lamps. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the indoor lighting needed for grow operations is 500 times more powerful than an average lightbulb. Even a four-plant lighting system uses as much power as 29 refrigerators.
Behind lighting, the most power-hungry systems in a commercial grow room are humidity, ventilation, and temperature. Unlike sun-grown cannabis techniques, hydroponic systems can keep producing year-round — as long as you shell out for the energy costs. When it’s sweltering during the summer, plants must be kept cool, so they don’t wither away. Once the winter chill sets in, plants need to stay warm enough to keep the growth cycle going. These climate control costs can set growers back significantly as they are at the mercy of fluctuating energy costs and grid load.
Bringing Solar Into Your Growth System
New York is making sustainability a key element in the state’s cannabis control framework. In Section 64 of the Marijuana and Taxation Act of 2021, there are multiple climate-related criteria the control board will lean on when deciding if a license should be granted. One of the core criteria is the ability to increase climate resiliency or minimize adverse environmental impacts. One of the best ways to do that is to design your hydroponic system with solar power as a core energy source.
Luckily for new growers, New York already offers several incentives for commercial sites to install solar photovoltaic panels. The size and geographic location of the site determine an upfront incentive on a dollar-per-watt basis. Additionally, when the facility produces more solar energy than it consumes, you can get credits for diverting that excess energy back into the local grid.
Energy storage systems are another excellent way to save money and operate hydroponic grow sites in an environmentally friendly way. These systems are most efficient in conjunction with on-site solar panels but are still effective on their own. Just like panels, storage systems can inject clean energy into the grid and get similar installation incentives.
The Benefits of Solar Are Clear
To bring the best quality cannabis to New York’s brand-new market, growers will need to take advantage of hydroponics systems. However, to turn a profit while powering these sophisticated systems and meeting the state’s climate impact requirements requires a pivot away from grid-only power.
Solar Liberty is New York’s leader in commercial solar panel installation, and we can help you get ahead in the race toward energy efficiency and savings on the electricity you need to power your cannabis venture. Schedule a free solar evaluation for your business today to find out how much solar can save you.
Give Solar Liberty a call at (866) 807-3639 or contact us online to take your first steps toward solar power for hydroponic cannabis growth.