Alberta cannabis producer readies Canada’s largest rooftop solar array

A rendering of the Freedom Cannabis rooftop solar array in Alberta.

An Alberta-based cannabis producer is weeks away from flipping the switch on what it says will be Canada’s largest array of rooftop solar panels.

Freedom Cannabis expects to activate the 1,830-kilowatt array at its facility 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Edmonton in November.

The initiative is, in part, an answer to the growing amount of power consumed by the cannabis industry.

As the industry scales up cannabis output to meet rising demand, managing electricity consumption is becoming a priority for businesses – especially in provinces such as Alberta, which relies on coal-fired stations for a substantial amount of its power portfolio.

A large solar strategy is part of For Freedom Cannabis’ business plan and corporate identity, which includes a commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.

“It’s a reflection of the company we are and how we think,” co-founder Troy Dezwar told Marijuana Business Daily. “It will help shave operating costs off our bottom line, but it’s also something that also sets us apart from our peers.”

Freedom has installed 4,574 solar modules on the rooftop its 126,000-square-foot facility in Acheson, Alberta.

The facility is capable of growing up to 3,500 kilograms (7,700 pounds) of cannabis on an annual basis. Construction is underway on the next phase, which will increase Freedom’s production by 12,000-14,000 kilograms.

When fully functional, the solar array will offset about 1,041 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and supply about 8% of the building’s annual power consumption.

That adds up to a yearly savings of up to 300,000 Canadian dollars ($230,000).

The cost of the CA$2.5 million project was partly offset by a CA$1 million grant from Energy Efficiency Alberta, a provincial agency promoting energy efficiency.

“Every company should do whatever it can to minimize its impact on the environment,” Dezwar said. “I would encourage cannabis companies to look for ways to minimize their impact on the environment, including water they use, or biofuel options. There’s different things we can do.”

Freedom aims to have its cannabis products on store shelves in December 2019 and to achieve EU-Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification by June 2020. The GMP designation will open the door to export opportunities.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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