Evolution BNK, an Italian medical cannabis grower, is planning to build 20,000 sq m of solar powered greenhouses which will combine marijuana growing and cryptocurrency mining.
The first 5,000 sq m facility is to be built by converting existing greenhouse in Sanremo, the "city of flowers" on the coast of Liguria in northwest Italy.
The rebuilt greenhouses will have their glass replaced by opaque solar panels, and they will have a basement added to accommodate computer banks that will be used to "mine" cryptocurrencies.
The combination of cannabis and computers is considered good because each requires a highly controlled environment, particularly as regards temperature. The computers can also provide heat for the plants in winter.
Evolution BNK has filed a patent for the heat transfer and energy efficiency system that will be used in the Sanremo projects.
The company estimates that the first phase of greenhouse conversion will have the capability to produce about 7,500kg of cannabis a year.
According to an Italian law that came into force in January, growers do not need a licence to cultivate cannabis with a THC content of less than 0.2%.
The energy efficient system
The expansion is being partly funded with money from Canadian cannabis investor LGC Capital, which has bought a 49% stake in the Italian company.
LGC said it decided to buy into the company because it was impressed by its "integrated approach" to growing cannabis.
Mazen Haddad, LGC’s Co-Chairman said in a press release: "Evolution BNK’s patented integrated approach of solar powered cannabis production and crypto-currency mining heat transfer has the potential to significantly reduce the unit costs of cannabis production. We look forward to being part of this exciting venture.
"There are numerous greenhouses facilities in Sanremo, Italy which could be converted thanks to Evolution’s unique approach and the mild Mediterranean climate, we see Italy as a potential future leader in very low-cost cannabis production."
Top image: Sanremo, the centre of Italy’s flower cultivation industry, has a lot of greenhouse space (Gert Blazejewski/Creative Commons)