This blog post will cover:
- Heating with Crypto mining
- Eco-friendly crypto
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 2021, total cryptocurrency power consumption reduced to 127 terawatt-hours.
Mining seems to have become a real problem when a lot of people started a massive discussion on the Internet. One of the first who highlighted the topic was Elon Musk. He has gone back on the previous decision to let buyers pay for Tesla cars using Bitcoin. The environmental damage caused by currency mining is mentioned in his Twitter post. His statement was even supported by Wall Street. They suppose there’s enough evidence pointing to BTC mining as a nature murderer. Expectedly, after Musk’s reversal the BTC value has fallen immediately.
In this article we will try to find out if there is eco crypto and if it can be environmentally friendly.
Heating with Crypto mining
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.
MintGreen, the cleantech Canadian crypto miner offered an idea of using digital boilers to restore about 96% of the electricity which was used for crypto mining as a heat energy. Mining PCs run literally all the time using their full capacity, and it could supply clean heating to the whole district in the city of North Vancouver. And this year, Vancouver’s planning to introduce the new heat source to their district energy system which is based on the BTC mining. Their main goal is to avoid 20k tonnes of greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere.
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 6 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.
The Arcane Research company has released a new report stating that Norway owns 1% of Bitcoin hashrate using exclusively revolving energy. Norwegians use a mixed approach generating electricity both with water and wind. According to their management of water resources and energy, 88% of mining power is generated by hydropower and 10% by electricity from windmills. Jaran Mellerud, the report author, said that he is expecting a huge growth of mining in Northern Norway. There are many stuck hydroelectric plants which will give miners an access to highly cheap electricity.
A resident of Sweden, Julian Oliver, also 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 the 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 take a look at four interesting projects which reward users with crypto for being eco-friendly:
- EcoCoin is an organization that aims to protect the environment through its activities. The first EcoCoin award was presented in 2015. The project 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 (POWR) 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.
- Solarcoin (SLR) is an independent sustainable currency. This project is trying to promote giving solar coins to generators in order to create solar energy. They can get 1 coin for every single megawatt hour produced with solar energy.
- Bitgreen (BITG) appears to be an eco cryptocurrency. Similar to Solarcoin, it motivates users to be more eco-friendly and rewards them. For example, rewards are given for volunteering, drinking coffee from sustainable cups etc. Bitgreen coins are traded on exchanges or spent with the company partners.
Some crypto initiatives go further than motivating people — they create whole new coin ecosystems which are designed to consume less energy while farming in order to save our planet:
- The new Chia (XCH) is considered to be an eco-friendly coin created to spend less energy. In order to start farming Chia, a person needs hard drivers. This process is known as a “Proof of Space”. Right when software is uploaded, the PC starts plotting and farming coins. This way of farming is affordable for home computers as it does not require as much electricity as Bitcoin mining does. However, some crypto critics don’t agree on Chia’s eco-friendliness. They say it led to the PC equipment sales and electronics waste increase.
- IOTA (MIOTA) — one more coin that uses the alternative technology called “Tangle”. It does not need miners’ participation at all. IOTA is supported by little devices that don't waste as much energy as other technologies.
- Cardano (ADA) is a development of Charles Hoskinson, who is also the co-founder of Ethereum blockchain. Cardano is another project, trying to cut energy consumption. Unlike Bitcoin, it uses a proof-of-stake blockchain called Ouroboros. It needs users to buy tokens to join the network which helps to save more energy resources. The TRG Datacenter claims that the energy use amounts to 0.5479 kWh only.
- Nano (XNO) might not show up on all the eco-coins lists, but it surely deserves to be in our article. This coin doesn’t need mining, it uses the Open Representative Voting protocol instead to cut the energy consumption and enhance the effectiveness. One Nano transaction requires 0.111 Wh only.
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.