NEW YORK and DELTA, British Columbia, Oct. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Investorideas.com, a global news source covering leading sectors including both cannabis and solar stocks, issues a snapshot looking at how solar energy has and will play a key role in the future of the cannabis sector. Companies mentioned: Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB.TO) (NYSE: ACB), Solar Integrated Roofing Corporation (OTC: SIRC), Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ), Aphria Inc. (TSX: APH.TO), (OTC: APHQF), and Emerald Health Therapeutics, Inc.
With recreational cannabis now federally legal in Canada and the supply in high demand, (not to mention the 30 US States where cannabis is legal, albeit at different levels), the question of power and supply are becoming a larger part of the conversation.
An article in SolarPowerworld.com sums up the relationship with solar and cannabis best, “Solar and marijuana are ubiquitous. The early, prohibited cannabis industry used solar panels to offset its electric load so the government wouldn’t be able to pinpoint high utility bills to illegal grow operations. But the scale of legal cannabis grows today is a bigger energy concern than the few hidden plants of yesterday.”
As reported by cannabis intel firm New Frontier Group, cannabis growers use a massive amount of electricity. “We’re talking enough to power 1.7 million homes. This is actually about 1% of the entire energy consumption of the United States. And it’s only going to increase as the industry continues to grow.”
California holds the largest market share in the U.S. solar panel market and it comes as no surprise California has also become one of the largest cannabis sectors in the US to date.
But can solar meet the demands of this freight-train industry?
Solar Integrated Roofing Corporation (OTC: SIRC) is looking to rise to the challenge. Solar Integrated Roofing Corporation CEO, Dave Massey, in recent news said, “electricity consumption by the growing cannabis industry represents an opportunity that is hard to overlook. Grow facilities often operate 24/7 using high intensity lighting, special ventilation and air conditioning systems. It was estimated that in 2016 a 5,000 square foot grow facility utilized 41,808 kilowatt-hours per month compared to an average household use of about 630 kilowatt-hours per month. The electrical cost was estimated to be approximately $2,500 per kilogram of cannabis leaf.”
From the news – “Recreational marijuana’s recent legalization in California gives (OTC: SIRC) an excellent opportunity to explore a new market for our custom designed solar roofing. If the California market proves to be successful, SIRC would consider expansion into other states as the legal environment changes.”
“The CBD extraction industry offers another avenue for expansion. Extraction facilities are also high kilowatt-hour users. Mid-range CBD extraction equipment uses almost 10,000 kilowatt-hours per month, with HVAC and other electrical uses (OTC: SIRC) estimates total use in the range of 15,000 kilowatt-hours per month. A well-designed solar roofing installation can lower production costs for the CBD extraction industry.”
Looking at well-known solar stock, Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ), an article entitled Canadian Solar Stock: Weed Could Power Up This Solar Play said “Companies like Canadian Solar Inc. ( NASDAQ: CSIQ) can easily build the required power capacity. The company is working on several big commercial power projects, so the thought of powering a million-square-foot grow-op doesn’t seem that unreasonable.”
“Canadian Solar could be ripe for the challenge and provide another revenue source for its solar solutions. The company has operations in 20 countries and customers in over 90 countries.”
As of December 2017, legal cannabis growers were spending roughly $6 billion on electricity, and this is before legalization in Canada or some of the medical regulation changes in Europe and the UK.
As the Cannabis industry has progressed state by state, and it seems soon now country by country, companies like the Resource Innovation Institute are seeking to provide aide to the industry through publishing best practice studies for the cannabis industry.
In one such guide from Denver Environmental Health, they listed three primary reasons why cultivators should look to reduce energy profiles: Economic Competitiveness, Community Relations and Environmental Impact.
Obviously much has changed scale and impact-wise since 2016 when the industry was still nascent but with companies creating massive grow facilities, the energy concern has never been more prominent.
Companies like Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB.TO) (NYSE: ACB), which earlier this year announced its acquisition of approximately 71 acres of land in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where the Company intends shortly to commence construction on a new high-technology hybrid greenhouse cannabis production facility. To this end, the Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Medicine Hat, concerning terms and a general understanding of potential transactions, including a prospective 10-year, 42 MW energy supply agreement.
The new facility, to be designed and engineered by the Company's wholly owned Aurora Larssen Projects Inc. division, will be named "Aurora Sun" in recognition of Medicine Hat's status as the sunniest city in Canada, with more than 2,500 hours of sunshine per year. At 1,200,000 square feet, or over 21 football fields, the footprint of Aurora Sun will be 50% larger than Aurora's Sky, a 100,000+ kg per year Health Canada licensed facility the Company is completing at Edmonton International Airport.
As facilities of this size become more the norm then the exception, companies like Solar Integrated Roofing Corporation (OTC: SIRC) and Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) may soon have their “day in the sun.”
Energy efficiency and the power of the sun is not new information to one of the leaders in the Canadian cannabis sector, Aphria (TSX: APH.TO ), (OTC: APHQF), a Health Canada Licensed Producer of medical cannabis products. According to an article in insiderFinancial.com - “The firm is reputed to be one of Canada’s most cost-efficient producers which engage in the production, supply and sale of medical cannabis. The firm truly deploys solar energy.”
The company’s website states – “Aphria is truly 'powered by sunlight', allowing for the most natural growing conditions available to produce safe medical cannabis products.”
Earlier this year, Emerald Health Therapeutics, Inc. and Village Farms International, Inc. announced their 50/50 joint venture for large-scale, low-cost, high-quality cannabis production, Pure Sunfarms.
“Pure Sunfarms initiated commercial-scale cannabis production in May of this year and is currently utilizing 225,000 square feet of its 1.1-million square foot Delta 3 greenhouse facility in Delta, BC, with the expectation that the full 1.1 million square feet will be converted for cannabis production by the end of 2018, on schedule and on budget. Upon completion of the conversion, Pure Sunfarms' Delta 3 facility will be one of the single largest cannabis growing facilities in the world.”
The technologically-advanced Delta 3 greenhouse design is based on decades of large-scale, low-cost agricultural production experience and extensive cannabis expertise, resulting in a state-of-the-art facility with 17 grow rooms optimized for year-round harvesting (more than 85 harvests annually) and an automated process line encompassing harvesting, trimming, drying and packaging. The greenhouse is designed to cultivate more than 200,000 cannabis plants concurrently.
Commercial production of such scale requires a massive energy supply and though not massively adopted on the market as of yet, the future could look very “Green” for an already growing solar industry.
According to research from Hexa Research, “The U.S. solar panel market size is expected to reach USD 22.90 billion by 2025 as a result of increasing demand from consumers owing to decreased installation cost of solar panel systems. Increasing environmental awareness among customers is driving the adoption of cost-efficient renewable forms of energy over conventional energy sources. The year 2016 witnessed a significant growth in number of installations of solar panels in U.S. For instance, more than 11.8 GW of solar panels were installed in U.S. in 2016.”
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