What's the Latest?

The burgeoning legal marijuana industry is putting pressure on public utilities, using tremendous amounts of power to grow its plants indoors, shielding them from the elements and thieves alike. "The warehouses commonly used to raise the plants in large quantities use about as much energy per square meter as a high-end data center. One-third of the energy used in growing operations comes from the lighting; the rest is devoted to ventilation, heating, dehumidification, and air conditioning." Taken as a whole, legal marijuana growth accounts for $6 billion in US electricity costs. 

What's the Big Idea?

Public utility officials are already making trips to large growth factories, looking for ways to improve their energy efficiency. And while reducing electricity use in homes often means replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, large industry has a more diverse set of concerns. LEDs for example are costly and, depending on their photon output, affect the ratio of active components in marijuana plants. As growing marijuana becomes more commonplace, the amount of energy needed for indoor grow houses may become difficult to justify. Many progressive growers, in fact, are building outdoor greenhouses that can use sunlight for free. 

Read more at Technology Review

Photo credit: Shutterstock