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The cannabis industry is expanding at a rapid rate. Legalized cannabis production has created an entirely new industry. Greenhouse growers are learning that indoor production comes with a set of cannabis greenhouse power challenges. Recently, when a new cannabis indoor grow facility began construction in Massachusetts, the owners quickly discovered they had a power problem. They found that their air conditioning and grow lights energy needs would be a huge financial burden on the facility. 

To find a way to reduce the huge electric bills, the owners of the cannabis greenhouse teamed up with Energy Choice. The mission was to find an onsite power generation solution that would work for their operating budget. The desire for energy savings was a strong motivator in engaging Energy Choice.

Solving Cannabis Greenhouse Power Problems with CHP

Energy Choice conducted a full analysis of the grow facility’s large-scale energy consumption. The team proposed a power solution comprised of two 550kW natural gas reciprocating engines. These engines can provide enough energy to completely meet the power needs of the grow facility. Indoor cultivation requires precise environmental control. Energy Choice’s solution helps both reduce energy costs and makes cannabis cultivation more efficient.

The waste heat was collected in the form of hot water. Then it was sent to absorption chillers that are able to produce free cooling for the facility. This process will further reduce the grow facility’s electric costs. This solution is called a combined heat and power system, or a CHP.

What is Combined Heat and Power?

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or cogeneration, is an efficient and environmentally conscious take on traditional power generation. The Environmental Protection Agency defines CHP as the onsite, simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single fuel source. CHP systems provide less expensive heat and electricity, they are more efficient, and they reduce pollutants in the air by capturing the “waste heat” lost by conventional power generation and then recycling it to create chilled water, hot water, or steam. Even though you may not be familiar with the waste heat from power generation, you have experienced waste heat everywhere. For example, it’s what makes your kitchen hot while you’re cooking, it’s the reason light bulbs are hot, it’s why your car’s radiator is so hot, and it’s why your legs feel warm while using your laptop on your lap.

Using CHP for Cannabis Greenhouse Power

The 1100kW (gross capacity) and 400-ton CHP system was installed in June of 2018, and it has been operating 24/7 ever since. The system has given the facility electric resiliency. The greenhouse facilities have all the electricity that is needed. Equally important, the site maintains a connection to the utility, which can be used as backup power. Due to relatively low natural gas costs, electricity is produced by the CHP units for almost half the cost of buying it from the utility. And about 400 tons of cooling is available for no additional cost, which slashes the operational costs of the grow facility and significantly increases profits.

Distributed Power Generation with Energy Choice

There has never been a smarter time to invest in distributed generation. Today’s low natural gas prices and higher electrical prices make onsite power generation systems a very attractive option for reducing energy expenses. Energy Choice offers turn-key power generation and CHP solutions that provide the best overall value for onsite power generation and have the highest efficiency and quality available.

Energy Choice offers 500kW, 1MW, 1.5MW, and 2MW “power plant in a box” solutions that are ideal for distributed generation or CHP projects. Our systems are fully containerized and our team works closely with the project developers and engine end users to take a holistic approach to power generation. This results in both reduced project implementation time and life cycle costs.