storing solar

Storing Solar: Renewables Rely On Expanded Energy Storage

It’s one of the oldest critiques of solar power since the first panel was wheeled out of the factory and angled toward the sun. Solar power only works when the sun is shining. 

That is certainly a fair point. However, it’s been a while since facilities have relied exclusively on the sun to harness and utilize the renewable energy abundant in nature. Energy storage has improved in leaps and bounds over the past two decades, offering competitive and now cost-effective ways to essentially keep the sun shining twenty-four hours a day. 

Energy storage offers myriad benefits, but we can boil them down to three main perks that make renewables viable. First, energy storage allows for an effective balancing of energy loads on a grid or facility. Much like load shedding in a more traditional sense, load balancing allows stored electricity to adjust to peak loads and reduce the overall operational costs. There’s also evidence that facilities may be able to run entirely on renewables or stored energy during low-draw hours, too, which can lower costs even more. 

Second, stored energy can help to plug the gaps. From passing clouds or weather systems to brief disruptions in generation, plugging into energy reserves can avoid energy spikes that can be costly and often inefficient. 

Like short-term disruptions, storage can also be a lifesaver when it comes to longer-term energy outages. From blackouts to natural disasters, energy storage can not only allow for production in a facility, but allow a grid to keep the lights on and water running in a community stricken by tornadoes, hurricanes, or other seismic events. 

At grid-scale, the United States enjoyed another banner year in 2020, one of the few bright spots in an energy industry facing a pandemic, huge changes in demand, and an uncertain future in regards to a presidential election. In the third quarter of the year alone, the US rolled out an additional 476 MW of storage capacity, a massive 240% increase on the previous quarterly record. 

The future of energy storage will come at every level of the power environment. Home-based storage for residential, single-building, and facilities will grow as smaller batteries become more efficient and can be plugged into smaller, locally-focused renewable grids. At the true grid-scale, engineers will develop more efficient storage solutions that may even become more suited for different types of generation. 

Right now, we’re building facilities with energy storage to solve all of these energy challenges and reduce the everyday costs of doing business. From cannabis facilities to office buildings, leaders are taking control of their energy future like never before and adopting the technology to make it happen. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of energy storage for your facility? Let’s talk

cannabis energy electrical

Energy Remains Key To Cannabis Industry

With new regulations that could further support the booming cannabis industry, plus even more states loosening regulations in the 2020 election cycle, cannabis is ready to explode. However, it’s still the inescapable price of production that could make or break just how profitable companies will be. 

Energy is absolutely critical for a crop that’s extremely reliant on light and perfect growing conditions to meet demand. And that demand is high; cannabis was worth roughly $10 billion in 2019. That number is expected to rise consistently over the next few years, and it could come with a sizeable carbon footprint. The best data we have dates back to 2017, when the United States produced 16.4 million pounds of cannabis. That produced a staggering 1.8 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. By 2020, the industry is putting out roughly 2.4 million tons of carbon, and that’s something that may see more taxes and penalties in the years ahead. 

That inefficiency has a big impact on the bottom line, too. Electrical demand is a large component of day-to-day expenses for most growers. Behind labor, it’s the biggest operating cost for growers. Much of that is due to the plant’s sensitive need for light. Marijuana often requires stretches of twelve hours of lighting at a time, plus the right humidity and water to grow. 

On average, indoor growers spend 262 kilowatts per hour per square foot. One gram of flowering plant can produce a pound of carbon emissions and cost roughly 24 cents to produce, strictly in energy expenses. Outdoor growers see numbers half of indoor, but it’s still a big dent in the company budget. 

That big footprint can have an impact on the communities growers live and work in. To fight an oversized draw on the grid, some municipalities are putting caps on the number of electricity growers can use, typically around 36 kWh per square foot. Cities in Massachusetts, Illinois, and part of Canada already have this type of legislation on the books, and as the industry grows into new regions and states, those same rules may find traction at the state or even federal level to create an even playing field and protect the environment. 

At present, just 6% of the electricity used in cannabis production can be traced to sustainable energy sources like wind and solar. The vast majority use coal and natural gas, especially in North America. Individual growers are looking at ways to include renewable technologies, more efficient lighting fixtures, and energy storage to lower costs and increase margins as they grow. 

If you’re ready to take a closer look at how you can improve your energy environment and save the planet in the process, we’re one of the most experienced companies in improving efficiency for cannabis growers. Learn more and contact us today!