Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-consuming phenomenon, and these days it is becoming noticeable on a global scale. The society is concerned because a lot of electricity is spent to maintain crypto mining. According to Morgan Stanley analysts, in 2018, the total amount of energy to support all cryptocurrency miners could amount to 140 terawatt-hours or 0.6% of the global electricity consumption. However, the situation is changing, more eco cryptocurrency projects, that are thinking about how to help the environment, appear. In this article, we will try to find out if there is eco crypto and if it can be environmentally friendly.
It should be noted that many advanced miners and not only, even at the dawn of ASIC mining of Bitcoin in 2014–2015, have already used their equipment for space heating.
In Canada, the Heatmine company is testing a developed solution that involves the use of heat generated by mining devices for premises heating. This approach should also reduce a part of the cost spent on electricity, which is used for cryptocurrency mining. Any equipment, including mining equipment, must be cooled since it emits a lot of heat, which also leads to additional costs. While some people do not even think to use the heat generated from such devices, others make it their everyday purpose. That is how the idea of creating mobile mining installations that could be connected to heating systems for residential and industrial premises appeared.
Jeremy Dahan, managing Director of Heatmine, said: “It is bitterly cold in Quebec (Canada) for 10 months of the year. Therefore, we decided that the heat generated from mining devices can be used for heating.” This approach was particularly warmly welcomed by local farmers, as it is quite difficult for them to make a profit due to the constant spending on heating and electricity. With the development of Heatmine, heat costs were reduced by 75–100% and now grown strawberries can compete with those brought from Mexico.
Another Canadian company, Myera Group, went even further. The equipment for ASIC mining heats water, which is then used for fish farming and greenhouse heating. The process is designed in such a way that the water that has already been used in the fish tank, then is used for watering plants. They decided that free heat would be perfect for growing fish and edible plants. Now, this farm is home to about 800 Arctic fish species, as well as lettuce, basil, and barley. The fish is kept in a single container filled with water. During the process of life, it enriches the water with nitrates, turning it into an excellent fertilizer. In this case, the whole process of crypto mining is becoming more “green” and environmentally friendly.
Let’s look at how the crypto sphere uses renewable energy sources. How people use the energy of the sun, wind, and hydroelectric power stations for mining.
For a long time, solar energy has been used all over the world, so why not use it for mining? After making the crypto farm and starting to mine, there are huge energy costs coming, which take a part of the income. At the same time, solar panels are not so expensive nowadays. To start mining using solar energy, one needs to live in a place where the sun is full all year round. In cases where the hot climate allows people to install solar panels, the miner only needs to choose the right equipment. Experts recommend buying a device that generates at least 1 kW of electricity. The largest mining farm was built by representatives of the Plouton Mining organization at the territory of one of the deserts in California. Its peculiarity is that only solar energy is used to “power” equipment. Plouton Mining executives believe that the high cost of electricity is the main obstacle to start mining. Therefore, they decided to find landowners in hot regions to place solar panels there and organize the special spot for cryptocurrency mining. According to the calculations data published by the company, the price of electricity reached 1.5 cents per kWh due to the use of solar panels. This should be relevant for the organization for a 25 years period — as long as the warranty on equipment lasts.
The wind is also a free element. Wind turbines can generate electricity “from the air”. Note that the wind and its direction are even more variable than the sun. It is difficult to forecast it even in the context of a week because the strength and duration of the winds can change. And here again, we have to take into account the instability of electricity generation. Perhaps this is why such a thing may not become popular among miners. However, a resident of Sweden, Julian Oliver, tried to draw attention to the use of windmills in mining. His cryptocurrency project Harvest consisted of three elements: a computer, a 700-watt mini windmill, and two batteries with a capacity of 150 Ah. Julian mined Zcash using a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti video card. The batteries allowed him to store energy in case of calm weather and, according to Julian, there were no serious problems with mining and he didn’t have to interrupt it.
Since 2013, one of the most famous mining farms, Genesis Mining, has been operating in Iceland. The platform runs exclusively on geothermal energy. It consists of 4 hangars, where several tens of thousands of equipment units for cryptocurrency mining are installed. Both high-performance video cards and ASICs are used here.
The most striking example of tidal energy use is the tidal power generator in the Bay of Fundy (North America). It’s a five-story heigh structure generating 2 MW of electricity, which is enough for 500 households. The cost of such an installation is simply sky-high and unaffordable for average miners.
It turns out that crypto companies are trying to think about the benefits for the environment. Let’s look at several projects that deal with environmental issues and the promotion of cryptocurrency at the same time.
EcoCoin is an organization that aims to protect the environment through its activities. The cryptocurrency was born in May 2017 and immediately declared itself as a revolutionary solution to the problems of human life. The main goal is to reward people for actions that have a positive impact on the environment, whether it is cycling or tree planting.
Power Ledger is the Australian cryptocurrency and energy trading platform that allows users to decentralize the sale and purchase of renewable energy sources. It is an open service based on blockchain technology, where trade is carried out taking into account the wishes of both service providers and their buyers. On the service, you can sell or purchase unused solar energy generated by various commercial enterprises, as well as by individuals.
As we can see, crypto and the wish to take care of the environment can co-exist, but everything needs to be approached intelligently. Sources of free electricity can still be considered more as an addition to the main resources. Hydroelectric power stations and nuclear power plants are stable and permanent suppliers of electricity. In turn, solar panels and wind generators are environmentally friendly aggregators without harmful emissions to the environment.
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