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LED lighting more energy efficient for indoor cultivation: U.S. study


October 27, 2020
By Grow Opportunity staff

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The graphs below summarize Electric Facility Efficiency (the lower, the better) and Electric Production Efficiency (the higher, the better). (Credit: Resource Innovation Institute)

A new study by non-profit Resource Innovation Institute (RII) says that indoor cannabis cultivation facilities that use LED lighting systems are more energy efficient than those with other lighting systems.

The study’s key findings indicated that facilities that performed best contained LED lighting in at least one phase of their operations. Facilities that use LED lighting in the flowering stage were also top performers. Indoor operations using LED lighting for flowering growth stages achieve 34 per cent better Average Electric Facility Efficiencies and 80 per cent better Average Electric Production Efficiencies than indoor facilities using double-ended (DE) HPS lighting for the flowering growth stage.

“These findings demonstrate the ability of LED technology to drive energy and production efficiency in horticultural operations,” said Derek Smith, RII executive director. “It should be noted that the range of performance across the facilities we studied is broad, meaning there is a large variability among users. We know cultivator education and training is essential to achievement of energy savings, and there’s a lot more we don’t know. More research is critical to establishing standards that result in greater energy efficiency and productivity, improved product quality and lower environmental impact.”

The study evaluated 84 indoor cannabis facilities across the United States through the RII’s Cannabis PowerScore database, a voluntary resource benchmarking platform that gathers confidential facility information about energy use. This database represents the largest dataset on indoor agriculture energy use and is being used to inform governments, utilities and industry leaders.

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More research and data analysis is “on the horizon,” according to RII’s public statement on Oct. 26. It is looking to explore how a variety of lighting strategies are affecting energy use in greenhouses, where natural and electric lighting is used. It also hopes to study how whole-building energy use, including fossil fuel energy and renewable energy, is impacted by facility size, location, climate, cultivars and other building technologies in operation.