Alberta pot producer gears up to flip the switch on country's biggest solar array

The province is attempting to phase out coal-generated electricity by 2030

By Emma Spears

October 24, 2019

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Troy Dezwart, co-founder of Freedom Cannabis Inc.
Troy Dezwart, co-founder of Freedom Cannabis Inc. Ed Kaiser/Postmedia

Alberta licensed cannabis producer Freedom Cannabis is gearing up to activate a brand-new energy system of rooftop solar panels that it claims will be the biggest in the country.

Created in response to Canadians’ concerns about the sustainability and energy efficiency (or lack thereof) of some cannabis facilities, Freedom is hoping to initiate the system in its facility, which lies just west of Edmonton in Acheson, time next month.

The solar panels, costing about $2.5 million (with $1 million covered by a grant courtesy of Energy Efficiency Alberta), are expected to offset over 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year, supplying just shy of 10 per cent of the licensed producer’s (LP) yearly energy consumption — saving the company about $300,000 on an annual basis.

With the massive post-legalization demand for cannabis and many LPs ramping up their production efforts, managing energy resources has become an issue of both cost and sustainability for cultivators — an issue especially pertinent in Alberta, which still relies heavily on coal-derived power to keep the lights (and fans, and heat) on. The province is attempting to phase out coal-generated electricity by 2030.

The solar panels, costing about $2.5 million (with $1 million covered by a grant courtesy of Energy Efficiency Alberta), are expected to offset over 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Freedom Cannabis via Facebook

The company has set up 4,574 on the roof of its massive cultivation facility, which measures about 126,000 square feet and can produce a yield of up to 3,500kg of cannabis flower per year.

“Every company should do whatever it can to minimize its impact on the environment,” company co-founder Troy Dezwart told Marijuana Business Daily. “I would encourage cannabis companies to look for ways to minimize their impact on the environment, including water they use, or biofuel options. There are different things we can do.”

Freedom is in the process of further expansion, which should significantly increase the LP’s harvest by up to 14,000kg.

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