Options to Weigh When Considering Solar Power

Options to Weigh When Considering Solar Power

Electricity use, example system cost and output and new technological developments should all be analyzed.

October 9, 2017
John W. Bartok Jr.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 print edition of Cannabis Business Times. To subscribe, click here.

 Will all greenhouses become electricity generators some day? Can solar panels be mounted on the roof of grow room facilities? Photovoltaic (PV) systems with efficiencies of 20 percent (meaning 20 percent of the sunlight can be converted into electricity) are now available at a cost that results in a reasonable payback, but collectors with efficiencies greater than 40 percent are being developed with new materials and manufacturing methods. Systems that can be integrated with production facilities are also being installed. Let’s look at some of the options.

It would take a very large system to provide all the energy needs for a typical greenhouse, but supplying a large percentage of the electricity needs is definitely feasible. First, we need to establish how much power the production system requires. From my analysis in doing energy audits, the typical greenhouse uses between 1 and 2 kilowatt hours of electricity per square foot of floor area per year (kWh/sq. ft.-yr.). To this, you must add the cost of plant lighting.

The future looks bright for converting sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaic systems could help to reduce greenhouse operating costs.

To read the full article in Cannabis Business Times' October issue, click here.

Top photo courtesy of ArchSolar LLC

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