Mining is an essential but energy-intensive means of securing the bitcoin network. It is thanks to this process that millions of strangers can transact with complete trust, safe in the knowledge that the information stored on the blockchain is true. Despite this, the energy costs of bitcoin mining have come under scrutiny, prompting calls for a greener way of protecting the network. A new mining company claims to have achieved a breakthrough by devising “the world’s first waste-to-energy crypto mine”, but does this claim withstand scrutiny?
Waste Not, Want Not
Like any industrial process, bitcoin mining is energy-intensive. While most of this power is gobbled up by the ASICs that are frantically crunching numbers, some of it is expended in the form of heat. Entrepreneurs have attempted to re-use this wastage, developing miners that will also heat your home or provide hot water. Despite well-meaning attempts to recoup some of the energy lost through mining, running hundreds or thousands of overclocked GPUs still comes at an enormous expense.
Standard American Mining claims to have developed a mining solution, however, that has close to zero waste. Renewable energy is commonly used in bitcoin mining, particularly in regions such as China’s Sichuan province, where a ready supply of cheap hydro power is gleefully lapped up by mining farms. Standard American Mining has taken a different approach, constructing a mining farm on top of a waste plant.