Green mining: a review of projects
Since the cost of cryptocurrencies increased significantly and Bitcoin mining became a lucrative business, the issue of the harm that cryptocurrency mining does to the environment has been on the agenda.
It is believed that Bitcoin mining consumes too much energy. Since it became necessary to use huge computing powers to mine one Bitcoin, this process, according to scientists, has begun to have a serious negative impact on the environment. Jon H. Truby, a professor at Qatar University, writes about the dangers of mining in a study entitled “Decarbonizing Bitcoin: Law and policy choices for reducing the energy consumption of Blockchain technologies and digital currencies”. The scientist believes that the unlimited energy consumption of cryptocurrency mining can lead to an environmental disaster. Specialists should pay attention to the creation of mining models that do not consume electricity and do not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The very statement about the dangers of mining is rather controversial. Not so long ago, the analytical agency Ars Technica compared the amounts of energy consumed by Bitcoin mining and by the maintenance of the PayPal payment system servers. About 1,000 megawatts are spent on total Bitcoin production per day, while the cost of keeping up the eBay infrastructure, which owns PayPal, is about 157 megawatts per hour.
If we take into account only the cost of electricity, then Bitcoin mining is really a more energy-intensive process. But when you consider that to ensure the work of PayPal, there is a whole staff of professionals who sit in offices, whose power supply also takes a lot of energy; consider the damage that the exhaust fumes from the transport on which these employees get to work; a lot of plastic bottles, used paper and other garbage that remains from the vital activity of any working space, especially when it comes to such a large company as PayPal — if you take all this into account, it turns out that PayPal does not cause less harm to the environment than Bitcoin mining.
On the other hand, if you follow this approach, then any human activity becomes harmful and not environmentally friendly.
The question of the dangers of mining and the crypto-sphere for the environment has become so urgent not only because of the harm to the nature that it carries, but because mankind simply could not imagine in advance what scale Bitcoin mining would reach in a matter of months and, accordingly, couldn’t predict what consequences this may lead to.
All this led to projects that offer different eco-friendly mining solutions being put on the agenda. I’ll briefly tell you about some of the most successful and interesting ones.
The NEW4 project, which raised $ 45 million during its ICO in August 2018, offered to extract energy for mining through recycling. In a global sense, this does not make mining itself safer for the environment, instead, the authors of the project offer to solve the problem of waste disposal with the help of mining.
The notorious Envion project launched its ICO earlier this year and attracted almost $ 100 million. The company offered investors to put their funds in the production of special equipment for mining, which could save the amount of energy needed to mine coins. The development is an automated mobile unit inside a standard 20-foot intermodal sea container. A special cooling system works inside the container, thanks to which energy consumption is reduced. The containers will be managed using an MMU program: a unit can be located anywhere in the world, and the owner can “switch” the equipment to mine various coins at will. The remote control system includes video surveillance systems and the automatic opening and closing of doors.
The seemingly flawless “green” project of Envion failed eventually, its investors were left with nothing, the team disintegrated, and the token depreciated, which caused a big scandal in Germany.
The creators of Hydrominer offered its followers to invest in a cryptocurrency farm operating on the energy of a hydroelectric power station in the Alps. In 2015, the sisters Nadine and Nicole Dumblen launched their crypto farm, renting two hydroelectric power stations and connecting 1,000 GPUs of miners to it. They placed the equipment in special containers for the transport of marine cargoes, and things went uphill. They conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign and raised $ 3 million during an ICO.
The idea to use renewable natural energy sources for the extraction of cryptocurrencies was promoted by the Foleum project. The project’s tokens were supposed to be a kind of shares, entitling holders to the profits derived from the cryptocurrency mining activity using natural energy sources (wind and sun). The project planned to raise from 2.4 million to 31 million dollars.
A similar “green” ecosystem for mining was proposed by the GEAR project. Its essence lies in the extraction of cryptocurrencies using natural energy sources, while investors, in turn, receive a share of the company’s profits. The project planned to raise up to $ 100 million.
The huge number of green projects and the funds they managed to attract over the past three years testify to the relevance of the environmental problem for the crypto community, on the one hand, and that the optimal solution in this direction has not yet been found, on the other.