Eco-Friendly Crypto Mining Is the Future as Green Solutions Gain Steam

Eco-Friendly Crypto Mining Is the Future as Green Solutions Gain Steam

Can alternative energy solutions overhaul crypto mining in the near future?

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Over the last decade, cryptocurrency mining has been given a bad rap for the sheer amount of electricity required to power the industry. Back in 2017, it was pointed out that the collective power consumption of the Bitcoin (BTC) mining network in particular eclipsed the power consumption of some countries around the world. This was echoed in another 2019 study that suggested Bitcoin mining produces more carbon pollution than some countries.

Toward the latter end of 2019, a couple of studies showed that the Bitcoin network was using less energy, despite increasing hash rates. This also included data that estimated that around 75% of Bitcoin mining was powered by renewable energy sources.

It is plain to see that the debate around the inherent costs of Bitcoin mining and the impact it has on the environment will continue unabated. That fact has not been lost on a variety of industry players that are actively seeking alternatives to not only make mining more profitable but also less costly, both economically and environmentally.

Earlier this month, Cointelegraph reported on a unique situation in which an oil company was converting excess gas being produced into electricity to power crypto mining rigs. The situation was necessitated by the sheer costs of converting or piping the gas to be sold on the open market. It was a unique example of how industries are having to adapt to specific problems and how cryptocurrency mining has provided an alternative way to not only make use of excess energy but make a profit from doing so.

Oil-powered mining

Conventional oil drilling and production has long been a proverbial gold mine that has played a massive role in powering industry and trade around the world. One endeavor has found Bitcoin mining as a more profitable way to make use of the excess gas from oil mining, as opposed to converting the gas to liquid form and selling it on conventional markets.

Podcaster Marty Bent, who revealed the use case, went as far as envisioning oil and gas companies dominating the mining space in the future due to the abundance of excess gas from oil fields. By setting up mining operations in containers at the fields, there is no need to pipe or transport excess gas. The operations simply turn the surplus gas or oil into electricity to power the mining rigs.

Cointelegraph spoke to Stephen Barbour, the president of Upstream Data, a company that builds and supplies the necessary equipment for oil and gas mining companies to make use of excess gas to mine cryptocurrencies. Having set up shop in 2017, Barbour said that there has since been a substantial spike in interest from various companies: “We started marketing in 2017 and had a difficult time getting taken seriously, now we are getting cold calls from the very same people that turned us away the first time.”

Barbour also agreed with Bent’s sentiments that oil and gas companies would gradually make up a bigger portion of the overall cryptocurrency mining ecosystem. A major driving force is the use of wasted energy sources that are abundant in the sector:

“I’ve been saying for years that the oil and gas industry will dominate the Bitcoin network hashrate. Hydroelectric dams and utilities are built to serve residential and commercial businesses, not Bitcoin miners. Mining always seeks the most wasted energy sources, there is no greater energy waste than in the oil and gas industry.”

Barbour also predicted that oil and gas producers that do not consider turning to Bitcoin mining will be at a disadvantage to competitors that do. The cost of building infrastructure to pipe or convert surplus gas simply does not have the same return on investment, while “shareholders tend to like when they increase reserves,” as he went on to explain further: 

“Mining eliminates the need for pipelines and wasted gas in many applications, there are no sunk costs unlike the pipe that is never recovered from the dirt. Producers not only earn money mining Bitcoin, they get to save money from being wasted paying for gas disposal or uneconomic pipeline projects. If their well production declines they can simply redeploy their data centers elsewhere. It is a no brainer.”

Another consideration is the reduction in carbon emissions, according to Barbour. He believes that Bitcoin mining in particular gets a bad rap for its perceived environmental impact, and he highlighted the importance of making use of wasted energy, saying that a small V-8 50-kilowatt hash generator “reduces carbon emissions by up to 10,000 tonnes / year when deployed on vented gas sources.”

Mining powered by solar energy

Renewable and green energy sources are another major consideration going forward and have been a focal point in Bitcoin mining circles. The simple question is whether it is more profitable for electricity produced from solar farms to be sold to power grids or used to power mining.

Cointelegraph reached out to Christian Ander, the founder of the Stockholm-based exchange BTCX, who came to this realization in 2018. As Ander explains, cryptocurrency mining has become a viable revenue stream for green energy producers as an alternative to connecting or contributing to mainstream power grids. Ander went on to explain that there are multiple benefits of generating and using solar power for mining operations and it would become the norm in the future:

“I installed my panels during 2018. The profits had been two fold. Using energy from my panels I save 75% of the energy cost. But also when the energy price is low which it has been during 2020, currently I get 1,300% more by mining Bitcoin than selling the energy to the grid. I believe energy producers will wake up to this fact.”

There is, of course, a certain barrier to entry, considering the initial cost of buying solar panels and mining equipment. However, the amount of money saved by buying electricity from the grid is the mitigating factor: “You basically prepay for 20–30 years of energy production up front. Of course it’s about 75% cheaper than buying it from the grid.” For Ander, cost reduction is the primary reason for turning to solar power for his mining endeavors. However, there is added sentiment given the fact that a green energy solution is being used.

Mining powered by hydroelectric energy

Hydroelectric power has been a big mover in the world of Bitcoin mining, especially in China and Canada, which have both been able to offer preferable electricity rates to industries nearby certain hydroelectric dams. According to CoinShares’s most recent report on the global mining ecosystem, which was released at the end of 2019, 73% of the world’s Bitcoin mining operations run off renewable energy systems. Furthermore, the report estimates that miners are still mainly based in regions using cheap hydroelectric power.

The report directly contradicts various media articles over the years regarding the effects that cryptocurrency mining has on the environment and suggests that the majority of mining operators are utilizing green energy. Furthermore, the use of some of these resources from the mining sector directly provides a solution to surplus or wasted energy that is created by hydroelectric power plants.

Christopher Bendiksen, the head of research at CoinShares, spoke to Cointelegraph about the overarching trends in the cryptocurrency mining space. First and foremost, Bendiksen highlights the ruthless nature of the ecosystem and the focus on profits over moral considerations around green energy sources: “Miners need to first and foremost survive in a highly competitive industry so they search out the cheapest energy. It just so happens that the cheapest energy on the planet is renewables.” Hydroelectric energy producers and gas and oil companies seem to be the most favorable energy sources for the mining space. It is a point that is backed up by Bendiksen as well:

“Hydro power is and will probably remain the most cost effective energy source for Bitcoin mining for the foreseeable future. Another potentially great source is waste natural gas. I do anticipate a move towards fossil fuels, specifically natural gas (we’re also observing increased coal use in Kazakhstan), as oil and gas producers realise it is more economical to mine Bitcoin with their waste gas instead of flaring it, or worse, venting it into the atmosphere, as are the current practices.”

Water and oil: The lifeblood of crypto mining

A key takeaway from conversations with various experts and industry participants seems to point toward hydroelectric and oil producers as major electricity sources for cryptocurrency mining operations. The latter is a sector that Bendiksen believes could well become far more prevalent and profitable:

“The economical and environmental savings will just be too good to ignore. I’m maybe not quite as bullish on natural gas mining […], but I do think it will be a big deal and certainly bigger than now.”

Mining operations powered by solar panels are relatively small compared to the various energy sources used by the mining ecosystem. Bendiksen described solar-powered operations as a small percentage accounting for a few dozen megawatts and said that these operations were rare. Hydroelectric energy producers seem to be the proverbial lifeblood of the cryptocurrency mining industry. Looking ahead to the next five years, Bendiksen predicted that this would remain the status quo:

“Yes this is still the case and I would be very surprised if it didn’t remain so for the next five years. The only potential source I can imagine overtaking hydro is natural gas, but it has a very, very long way to go considering how dominant hydro power is in the current energy mix.”

Alejandro De La Torre, the vice president of the mining pool Poolin, believes that cheaper electricity prices produced by hydroelectric power plants will continue to be an attractive option for miners. As a result, the entire industry could become more efficient:

“The industry will be much more professional too. There will be new entrants after the halving because of the new miners, new financing options, better operating systems for mining rigs and the clear 4 year Bitcoin reward scheme. The pursuit of cheaper electricity will undoubtedly continue and if the trend is to continue, most of this cheap power will come from green sources.”

Nevertheless, profitability will always be a major consideration for cryptocurrency miners. With this in mind, De La Torre believes a push from the international community for more green energy production could ultimately dictate which energy sources are favored by mining operations:

“As long as the cheaper electricity to be found is from green sources than most miners will choose it. The global trend of less fossil fuels will also help the mining industry as governments will push for more green power plants at even better prices. Ultimately, it is an effort from us all, if we push the global community to less fossil fuels than everyone wins.”


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Can alternative energy solutions overhaul crypto mining in the near future?

Lenovo Using Eco-Friendly Methods to Help Run GoChain Blockchain

Lenovo Using Eco-Friendly Methods to Help Run GoChain Blockchain

Computer giant Lenovo will operate a signing node on GoChain’s blockchain, using eco-friendly methods

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Computer manufacturing giant Lenovo will help run the blockchain network for GoChain, a blockchain protocol startup.

Lenovo will lend a hand to GoChain’s network, operating a signing node which “will be the first of its kind to be operated in a liquid immersion data center for cooling,” a Jan. 6 press release said. 

An eco-friendly endeavor

Created by a company called Midas Green Technology, the mentioned data center cooling methods reportedly require less energy than other techniques, including air-based temperature control measures, the release noted. 

Employing this efficient technology, Blockchain Resources Corp. is constructing eco-friendly data centers where the hardware for Lenovo’s GoChain blockchain node will operate. 

Cointelegraph reached out to Lenovo but received no response as of press time. This article will be updated accordingly upon receipt of a response. 

Green mining

Powering blockchains can require significant energy and cost, so, naturally, various people and companies have thrown their hats into the ring in an attempt to make the process more efficient and environmentally friendly. 

In February 2018, Cointelegraph reported on Bitcoin ATM provider Cointed and its efforts in the world of green mining. 

Technology company Chia also came forward in July 2019 with a green paper on environmentally sensitive mining methods.


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Computer giant Lenovo will operate a signing node on GoChain’s blockchain, using eco-friendly methods

German Firm Unveils Mobile Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Containers

German Firm Unveils Mobile Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mining Containers

Newly-developed mobile, air-cooled mining containers can house 144 ASIC miners each to optimize mobility and temperature control for mining pools

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Bitcoin (BTC) mining infrastructure firm Northern Bitcoin AG has announced the completion of tests for its new air-cooled mining container, which houses 144 ASIC miners.

A press release published on Sept. 9 outlined that the highly mobile container solution has been designed as a piece of flexible and efficient infrastructure that will enable the firm to establish mining pools in countries with year-round cool locations. 

Setting up shop anywhere energy is cheap, sustainable 

Headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Northern AG develops and operates Bitcoin-focused mining hardware that uses renewable energy sources and aims to attain optimal efficiency and sustainability.

The press release notes that Northern AG has developed and operated a mining pool with 21 water-cooled 41-foot containers — housing 210 ASIC miners each — in Norway for over a year. 

The new water-cooled container has reportedly been developed with partners in Germany and will allow the firm to extend its operations, flexibly and at short notice, to new locations across Scandinavia. 

Its 20-foot design — with a capacity to house 144 ASIC miners — has a significantly higher miner density than the earlier water-cooled containers. The firm says it is focused on deploying its mobile mining solutions in permanently cool locations where sustainable energy sources such as hydropower are cheap and abundant. 

As the press release notes, efficient temperature control is critical for compute-intensive Bitcoin mining operations, during which the hardware required typically generates significant heat.

Bitcoin mining getting more energy-efficient

As recently reported, fresh data from aggregator Statista has indicated that Bitcoin (BTC) energy consumption is becoming rapidly more efficient, even as the global network’s hash rate continues to hit record highs.

Energy consumption as of July 2019 was 69.79 terawatt hours per year. In July 2018, the figure was 71.12 terawatts, while hash rate was almost 60% lower than at present. 

A study in June found that three-quarters of Bitcoin mining activity is powered by renewable energy sources. 

Mining hardware manufacturers such as Bitmain are similarly seeking to develop new solutions with greater processing capabilities and lower energy demands.


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Newly-developed mobile, air-cooled mining containers can house 144 ASIC miners each to optimize mobility and temperature control for mining pools

Chia Releases Green Paper Detailing Eco-Friendly Means of Crypto Mining

Chia Releases Green Paper Detailing Eco-Friendly Means of Crypto Mining

Chia Network has published a green paper that describes an eco-friendly way of mining cryptocurrencies

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San Francisco-based tech firm Chia Network has released a green paper that describes an eco-friendly means of mining cryptocurrencies.

The green paper provides a description of how proof of space and proof of time create a „Nakamoto-style“ consensus algorithm for Chia’s blockchain. Specifically, Chia proposes to “farm” rather than mine to verify blockchains that issue cryptocurrencies, wherein proof of space and proof of time take the place of the proof of work (PoW) principle used for mining of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). The paper further explains: 

“Instead of using proofs of work, Chia alternates proofs of space with verifiable delay functions. This results in a chain than in many aspects is similar to Bitcoin, in particular, as in Bitcoin no synchronisation is needed and we can prove rigorous security guarantees assuming a sufficient fraction of the resource (space in Chia, computation in Bitcoin) is controlled by honest parties.”

Initially, Chia’s CEO Bram Cohen debuted his solution to Bitcoin in late 2017, which he said resolves “centralization problems” with the virtual currency by employing the concept of proof-of-time. Cohen said “the idea is to make a better Bitcoin, to fix the centralization problems,” relying on a two-step block authentication method.

As reported in June, the carbon emissions generated by Bitcoin are comparable to the whole of Kansas City, and even a small country, according to a study published in the Joule journal. With annual emissions of CO2 estimated at between 22 and 22.9 megatons, Bitcoin sits somewhere between Jordan and Sri Lanka in terms of output. The study suggested that this level would double if every other cryptocurrency was also taken into account.

According to a March study by a blockchain specialist at Big Four auditing firm PwC, renewable energy would not be enough to solve bitcoin’s sustainability problem. The carbon footprint of a Bitcoin transaction reportedly outpaces that of a traditional non-cash banking transaction.


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Chia Network has published a green paper that describes an eco-friendly way of mining cryptocurrencies