Bitcoin’s energy consumption problem
The main argument against cryptocurrency mining is its high energy consumption. But if this consumption could be used for a greater cause and reduce the energy consumption of existing, everyday appliances, does it mean that this argument will no longer serve its purpose?
Especially with the soaring energy costs in Europe, regular households, companies and public spaces are struggling to maintain their former habits untouched. And there are many consequences to it – from layoffs, to shutdowns, to minimizing the ways of satisfying your basing needs, such as keeping warm during the winter.
At the same time, running data centers is known to produce a lot of heat, is highly expensive and it doesn’t make much sense to use additional heat to keep the rooms warm. Everyone who has invested in mining equipment will tell you it keeps their home warm so much that they have to keep the windows open during sunny days.
Eventually, somebody noticed that this source of heat is only excessive if it’s not been put into practice. And that’s how a new business model was born, that not only solves the heating problem but also takes away the burden of mining being energy exhausting.
This is being born out in the world of cryptocurrencies, where a systematic failure to address key public concerns surrounding energy consumption has made them a target for legislative and regulatory attention.
According to the cited whitepaper, the key to mass adoption of cryptocurrencies within the environment supportive of their progress will be addressing the issue of blockchain’s energy consumption.
As the newest research on Bitcoin shows, not to mention the great Ethereum merge which is known to use 99.98% less electricity, the impact has been significantly reduced. However, some experts, such as the Deep Green DAO, believe that the real impact will be visible when blockchain manages to answer the growing demand for global energy consumption.
Case study: Digital boilers
The way they see it, the energy waste from computing could be recaptured and utilized to supplement or replace existing sources of industrial and domestic heat. In other words, blockchain is at a competitive advantage for having a huge financial and reputational opportunity in the race to NET zero.
Action taken to limit emissions in the next decade will be critical to the future, which is why every country, sector, industry and each one of us must work together to find ways to cut the carbon we produce.
So, let’s give you some successful examples.
We’ll start with the mentioned company, Deep Green Technologies, which has come up with a “Bitcoin digital boiler” to heat a public swimming pool at the Exmouth Leisure Centre in southwest England.
This “digital boiler” accounts for fully 60% of the pool’s energy usage (saving them an estimated £20,000 a year). It installs the mini datacenter for free and covers all the electricity and maintenance costs.
This is an absolute win-win situation: the pool gets its heating for free, while the data center gets its cooling for free. It doesn’t need to be put in inconveniently located warehouses, and the company gets a good deal of publicity.
But that’s not the only example of how this company uses excess heat for good. In fact, they’ve made it their mission. In the cited whitepaper, they pointed out they’re devoted to addressing the serious environmental impacts of global computing using “data furnaces”, while a solid part of their business plan is to rent their compute for use in AI training and machine learning workloads.
“Climate change requires innovative solutions”
The idea of digital boilers isn’t that new. As a matter of fact, it was introduced in 2021 in North Vancouver, Canada, as a way of delivering an innovative low-carbon heating solution.
Namely, this city runs on a hydronic district energy system that delivers heat to 100 residential and commercial buildings. So, in order to transition from the use of conventional natural gas, Lonsdale Energy Corporation (LEC) has contracted cleantech Bitcoin mining company MintGreen to implement more renewable and clean energy.
In 2022, the City and LEC will be introducing a novel heat source to their district energy system: bitcoin mining. Over the term of the engagement, MintGreen's Digital Boilers will prevent 20,000 tonnes of GHGs from entering the atmosphere per MW compared to natural gas. Production of both bitcoin and usable thermal energy positions the Digital Boilers to be the cost-leading low-carbon heating technology.
Source: PR Newswire
Cleantech is definitely a branch that has been disrupting the industry, with MintGreen’s digital boilers having been proven to recover more than 96% of the electricity used for Bitcoin mining in the form of heat energy. This energy can then be used as a way to sustainably heat communities and service industrial processes.
Not only that, but it’s also shown to be reliable at providing clean heating, considering that miners are running at full capacity 365 days a year.
And it’s possible that we will be seeing more of this around the world since the idea of district energy has been recognized by the UN Environment Programme cites “as a best practice approach for providing a local, affordable and low-carbon energy supply” (“District Energy in Cities” report from 2015).
The complex issue of climate change requires innovative solutions. Using the energy twice both eliminates waste and makes this project one of the greenest in space.
Source: MintGreen CEO, Colin Sullivan for PR Newswire
Apart from media articles and case studies, you can find many examples of miners using Bitcoin heating as an alternative to traditional heating methods. As a matter of fact, Reddit is full of testimonials like this.
One user even stated that mining creates the perfect temperature for a greenhouse.
Either way, since mining is already so widespread, maybe the most useful scenario would really be to direct this heat to where it’s needed. However, if you do come up with an idea to do so, make sure it’s legal. Otherwise, you’ll go viral like a primary school principal from Serbia who’s been secretly mining in the classroom.