Article by Dan Sutton, Cantech Letter
The thought of marijuana cultivation brings to mind images of the a “Back to the Land” Movement, and perhaps of a philosophy that eschews waste and aims for practices that are more in tune with the environment.
But the marijuana business has a dirty secret: it is likely that illicit marijuana grow ops use 40 per cent more electricity than metal mining in Canada today.
The illicit cultivation of marijuana in Canada, in fact, is one of the single most energy intensive sectors in any industry in the nation, legal or not. More than 50,000 decentralized grows nationwide pack high wattage lamps into basements, sheds, and bunkers to fuel the domestic demand for billions of grams of the plant per year. Air exchange, cooling, dehumidification, and other infrastructure converge to demand as much as three per cent of all of the electricity generation nationwide.
Aggregate electricity production in Canada totals around 2300 petajoules per year. Electricity demand for the Metal Ore Mining Industry in Canada was estimated by the Canadian Industrial Energy End-Use Data and Analysis Centre at Simon Fraser University to be ~50 petajoules in 2014. If cannabis cultivation in Canada uses three per cent of our aggregate energy production, then demand from cannabis cultivation activity equates to over 70 petajoules every year, 40 per cent more than the mining industry.