How to Minimize Air Pollution While Growing Cannabis

As the medical marijuana, recreational marijuana and CBD markets each grow into multi-billion dollar industries, the demand for cannabis is at an all-time high — and canny entrepreneurs across the country are starting commercial cannabis grow operations in earnest. However, institutions like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are studying the potential effects of cannabis farms on air pollution and finding worrying results.

Aurora, Colorado, which is the second most popular locality in the nation for commercial cannabis farming operations, currently has the country’s 8th worst air quality according to the American Lung Association. The CDPHE asserts that this has much to do with cannabis farms and their output of what are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

cannabis-growing-tips

What are VOCs, and why are they a problem?

VOCs are naturally released by a wide range of plant life, and are generally harmless on their own. An example of well-known VOCs are terpenes, which are present in everything from lavender to black peppercorns. The terpene profiles of different cannabis strains give them their respective identities, like the Lime OG strain which is incredibly popular among consumers.

The problem with VOCs occurs when they combine with combustion gases and become harmful to the ozone. Cannabis farms are commonly positioned along stretches of highway, with frequent car traffic through all times of day. This makes them uniquely problematic, as unlike other VOC-emitting plants like lavender, they are positioned to release VOCs en masse to combine with automobile exhaust and produce air pollution.

We can’t alter the release of VOCs in agriculturally and industrially-grown crops like marijuana at present, but there are ways farmers can offset these emissions with the use of environmentally-friendly alternatives to onsite operations. In this post, we go over three important examples of how cannabis farms can reduce or counter their own VOC emissions with little to no impact on productivity.

Strategic Positioning of Cannabis Farms Using Road Hierarchy

The first and most obvious step that can be taken to reduce the harmful interaction of VOCs produced by cannabis farms with motor vehicle exhaust is to position them along less traffic-intensive roads. The current road hierarchy within the United States and Canada is as follows:

  • Freeways are categorized as interstate or intercity roads, limited access roads and on- and off-ramps.
  • Arterial roads are designed to accommodate plenty of traffic throughout the day, and are subdivided into minor and major arterials for urban and rural areas respectively.
  • Collector roads are the convergence points for local roads, ultimately distributing local street traffic to different arterials.
  • Local roads carry low traffic volume and can typically be found in residential areas or specialized districts. In rural areas, these are sometimes unpaved depending on budgetary constraints or development timelines.

Cannabis-friendly states like California, Oregon and Colorado would benefit from the creation of more specialized farming counties and districts, where cannabis farms are positioned along local roads connected to a single collector a respectable distance away. This would prevent anything other than essential traffic, such as transport or supply vehicles to and from the farms themselves, from being in frequent proximity to the VOCs produced by onsite crops.

cannabis

Use of Biofuels in Tractors, Tillers & Other Onsite Utility Vehicles

Continuing on from the concept of using road hierarchy in positioning cannabis farms: the risk of VOC conversion from approaching transport or supply vehicles could be further diminished if they were either electric vehicles (EVs) or made use of currently available biofuels.

This also applies to utility vehicles operated onsite, such as tractors, diggers and tillers, all of whose emissions are in contact with VOCs far more often than those from logistics vehicles.

Green Energy to Power Onsite Machine Processes

While they may not yet have the output specifications to effectively power entire farms, solar panels can provide ample energy for common onsite machine processes, such as the extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes to make isolates or the wet-mixing of hemp hurds to make hempcrete.

Depending on the products onsite facilities are purposed to manufacture, the use of green energy could be feasible for several farms across the country that haven’t already made the switch.

Italy Promises To Eliminate Barriers To Renewable Energy Adoption

By 2030, Rome is expected to install an estimated 70 gigawatts of green energy capacity. But due to lengthy permitting duration, Italy is installing 0.8 gigawatts only every year, according to a report by Reuters. On May 5th, Roberto Cingolani said Italy is set to implement tight measures to streamline the authorization procedure of clean energy projects.

Italy’s previous energy plan unveiled in 2019 revealed it would generate 65 gigawatts of clean energy capacity within ten years. However, the complex permitting process is slowing down the rollout of renewable energy schemes. It also jeopardizes efforts to obtain the EU’s recovery funds and meet climate goals. Moreover, Brussels has reinforced its targets on carbon emissions since then, forcing many states to reevaluate their climate objectives. Below are ways countries, including Italy, can boost the use of more renewable energy.

clean energy in italy

1. Get rid of fossil fuel subsidies

Subsidy reforms on fossil fuels plus carbon pricing can generate about 2.8 trillion dollars every year in government revenue by 2030. The report by the New Climate Economy also reveals that implementing carbon pricing systems can be effective in supporting just energy transition.

Governments can use the revenue generated from carbon pricing to provide citizens, especially the poor and groups affected by structural changes, with rebates or tax cuts. This step will also help showcase the value of renewables and energy efficiency, thus discouraging investors from investing in fossil fuels.

2. Improve access to greener energy

Typically, government authorities make assumptions of how much households living with low-incomes can afford for clean energy. As a result, they end up settling for subsidized fossil fuel-powered centralized grid systems. Instead, governments should provide clean and better energy to all, as Freedom Solar states, empower everyone to access clean, affordable, and reliable energy.

solar-energy-trends

Solar panels are becoming more accessible, for homeowners and businesses

One way to achieve this goal is by investing more in building markets that provide the poor and small businesses opportunities to utilize renewables more often.

3. Encourage investing in energy efficiency

While innovative financing to enhance energy efficiency in buildings boosts economic growth, countries need to rethink and expand their policies. Doing so will help investment in renewables to flow. Some ways of enhancing energy efficiency investments include establishing standards for appliance and building efficiency, innovative funding options, and improved public procurement.

In recent years, countries worldwide are paying more attention to clean energy. However, fossil fuels still account for about 80% of energy consumption globally and 75% of carbon emissions. That’s because of obstacles, such as complex deployment environments for renewable energy schemes and soft costs. Fortunately, governments can boost the adoption of clean energy by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, encourage energy efficiency investment, and improve access to green energy.

4 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Green Energy Right Now

According to a study by Ourworldindata, around 11% of global energy comes from renewable technologies, around one-quarter of our electricity comes from renewable energy, and that’s great news for the planet. From hydroelectricity, wind and solar energy, biofuels and geothermal, there are now many alternatives for public and private use. But why should you invest in green energy? What are the benefits of eco-friendly energy sources and why should you care?

renewables-investment-trends

1. It’s actually cheaper!

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, in fact the cost of photovoltaic energy has fallen by 82% in the last decade! But why is that? Well, the operating costs are much lower for renewable energy plants than fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. As long as there is sunshine there are possibilities of creating solar energy!

If you’re looking for an energy plan for your home, you’ll soon find out that energy suppliers offering renewable electricity are cheaper and more accommodating. They also tend to have environmentally friendly policies with projects such as planting trees every time you sign up for a new contract for example.

2. It’s better for our health

One of the most underrated benefits of renewable energy is the impact on our health. Increases in fossil fuels, road transport or open burning of waste in cities has contributed to air pollution around the globe. The particles found in this polluted air can have a devastating effect on our health. In fact, according to many studies, air pollution increases the risk of lung infections, lung cancer, premature death and asthma.

3. It’s good for the climate

Some of the existing issues the world is facing nowadays are waste and carbon-related, such as the greenhouse gas effect, climate change, and global warming that could also be caused by coal-produced energy.

Too much carbon and other gases are continuously produced on the earth’s surface due to improper waste disposal and coal energy consumption. In return, gas molecules continuously increase in volume, causing global warming.

Because of the greenhouse gas effect and global warming, climate change occurs. This leads to an interruption in the natural climate cycle of the earth due to the high volume of gases produced by carbon emissions and improper waste disposal.

One of the main benefits of renewable energy is the fact that it produces no or very low greenhouse gases. Therefore, it produces much less pollution, resulting in cleaner air and water. Renewable energy is derived from nature so by definition the resources have the benefit of being abundant and pretty much available anywhere.

4. It’s the future

In the future, we are more than likely going to only use climate-friendly energy sources such as the sun or wind to heat and power our homes and businesses. Electric cars will become the norm and more jobs will be created around environmentally friendly energy all over the globe. We’re also expected to see fossil fuel cars disappear in the long run with more and more investment in the green sector.

Going Green For Good

If you’re a business-minded person, investing in energy penny stocks is a good idea. It’s one way to support green energy businesses while earning money. You can invest in companies that look for new renewable energy solutions, such as converting wastes into energy.

Aside from green energy, you can go green or environment-friendly through proper waste disposal. Whenever organic waste decomposes, gases like methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide are produced. Thus, when the sun’s radiation enters the atmosphere, these gases tend to redirect heat in different directions, warming the lower atmosphere.

If everyone uses green energy and carries out proper waste management at home, people could help save the environment. Hence, going green should be a great consideration in mind.