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Author Topic: Bitcoin Mining Drives Green Energy Innovation  (Read 123 times)
Hydrogen
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August 30, 2018, 09:32:03 AM
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Global warming is certainly one of the humanity’s greatest challenges. For decades, public opinion has held heavily industrialized nations accountable for the damage done to our planet. In the quest to preserve Earth, it has become en vogue to critique Bitcoin mining for its high energy use and potentially harmful impact on the environment.

Towards the end of last year, the Bitcoin $BTC▼1.11% network was running on enough electricity to power more than 20 European nations. More recently, an article was run with the headline Bitcoin mining now accounts for almost one percent of the world’s energy consumption. Under a certain light, this is certainly true.

Bitcoin mining relies on Proof-of-Work to maintain its ledger. This mining network is made up of (and powered by) computers, which obviously use electricity. As adoption increases, more computers join the network, making the whole thing quite energy-intensive. Profit and efficiency is directly tied to energy input – a seemingly dangerous business model if electricity sources are not considered.

But while the data indicates that Bitcoin uses one percent of the world’s electricity, it misleadingly suggests that (if it wasn’t for Bitcoin) that electricity would not be produced – or necessary. In fact, often is the case that the electricity used to power Bitcoin mining farms comes from a surplus of energy that countries are desperate to unload.

In the case of green-energy solutions such as wind farms and solar, it is often very difficult to store or even sell that energy if the supply outweighs demand. This problem is particularly common in countries like China – where up to 70 percent of the world’s Bitcoin is being mined.

Reuters reported that “wasted [Chinese] wind power amounted to around 12 percent of total generation in 2017,” and distributing that surplus is proving incredibly difficult because other countries in the region are also energy-rich.

Simply put, countries that attract cryptocurrency miners with cheap electricity can do so because the supply greatly outstrips the demand. Cryptocurrency mining plays an important role in normalizing international energy markets by consuming power that would otherwise go to waste.


Andreas Antonopoulos, a prolific cryptocurrency researcher and influencer, has explained the situation quite succinctly:

The energy consumption in mining, I think, is misrepresented. […] What happens when you build a 50 megawatt plant in a place where they only have 15 megawatts of demand? In some cases, if it’s alternative energy, like wind, solar, or hydro, you can’t turn it off or turn it down. You’ve built it, and it will produce, and then what? You’re basically wasting energy.

Now what if, in that environment, you can find a way to turn that energy into an alternative store of value […] by using electricity that would be otherwise wasted. Now, Bitcoin is an environmental subsidy to alternative energy all around the world.

What needs to be realised is that the advent of Bitcoin is effectively driving the decentralization of energy production, which Antonopolous notes is “one of the most important trends in human history.”

Having energy “stored” in the form of cryptocurrency offsets the costs involved of developing those solutions – especially now that we know that lots of renewable energy goes to waste. The Bitcoin mining industry actually contributes to the development of alternative energy solutions through the conversion of surplus energy into a valuable commodity, simply by making use of the electricity produced.

Canada’s largest utility, Hydro-Quebec, is a perfect example. Reuters reports that “the province estimates it will have an energy surplus equivalent to 100 terawatt hours over the next 10 years. One terawatt hour powers 60,000 homes in Quebec during a year.”


Not surprisingly, Bitcoin mining operations have inundated Hydro-Quebec with applications to make use of the surplus. As such, profits have been steady, a whopping annual average of roughly $3 billion over the past four years.

[Edit: Hydro-Quebec has since clarified details of its profits, and this post has been updated to reflect its data. Particularly, it pointed out that the numbers relate specifically to its profit, not revenue, as was originally reported. Surely, an important distinction.]

So much money has been generated by lucrative deals that it was “forced” to share $45 million with its customers as profits exceeded the regulator-approved rate of return. This will surely act as inspiration for other nations to create similiar renewable energy solutions.

Attacking Bitcoin mining for its electricity usage is certainly easy – it’s an obvious target. In May, Ars Technica reported that by the end of this year, Bitcoin could consume up to 7.7 gigawatts, which sure sounds totally scary, until you run some comparisons.

The VISA corporation consumed more than 182 gigawatts of electricity over a seven year period. As it stands, it would take Bitcoin almost 24 years to consume as much electricity as VISA did in seven. Supposedly, it’s Bitcoin that is the danger to the environment, not VISA. Yeah, right.


Antonopoulos does concede there are challenges associated with managing Bitcoin’s electricity usage, but it is a complex discussion that requires consideration from many angles. The idea that by simply using electricity, Bitcoin must be bad, is nothing short of narrow-minded.

“This is a long game, […] the implications and complexity of how cost is allocated and how energy is consumed is huge,” Antonopolous declared. “I don’t think we can afford two Proof-of-Work systems on this planet, but I think we only need one.”

To which extent, the power to drive energy innovation, in the end, could be Bitcoin‘s “killer app.”

https://thenextweb.com/hardfork/2018/08/28/bitcoin-drives-energy-innovation/

....

Here we have one of the more neglected angles to the bitcoin electricity consumption debate.

"Bitcoin mining consumes massive quantities of green, environmentally friendly, hydroelectric energy. These massive sums of cash thrown at green energy builds demand, which in turn drives progress and innovation in the sector."

Bitcoin mining does consume a lot of energy but virtually all of it comes from a sector with a low carbon footprint. This could help to make solar panels, hydroelectric plants and windmills more cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels on a kilowatt per dollar basis.

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August 30, 2018, 10:06:07 AM
 #2

Bitcoin mining does consume a lot of energy but virtually all of it comes from a sector with a low carbon footprint.

Currently the majority of miner are located in china.
And china's energy is to 66% generated by coal-fired power plants.  That's by far not a 'low carbon footprint'.

Still.. compared to banks and their energy usage.. that's nothing in comparison.



This could help to make solar panels, hydroelectric plants and windmills more cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels on a kilowatt per dollar basis.

Using the unused energy from renewable sources which can't be injected into the grid for mining is a very nice idea.
I believe this can be established pretty cost-efficiently.

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August 30, 2018, 10:25:53 AM
 #3

Currently the majority of miner are located in china.
And china's energy is to 66% generated by coal-fired power plants.  That's by far not a 'low carbon footprint'.

There's no reason to utilize coal generated electricity in bitcoin mining operations.

Hydroelectric power is cheaper than coal or oil. There is also often a large surplus in hydroelectric power due to regional and geographic constraints. The best application for bitcoin mining is hydroelectric power by far.

There isn't a scenario where a mining operation will opt for coal or oil above hydroelectric energy. This is due to bitcoin mining being extremely mobile and not having location constraints. All that is required is internet access, which allows miners to shop around for the lowest cost per watt supplier to meet their energy demands.

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August 30, 2018, 10:51:20 AM
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Green energy has become one of the rapidly increasing industry in the world. As world moves more to digitization there is a huge demand of energy and there is necessity of clean and green energy. And with the use of bitcoin and other currencies there seems we will have a high demand in future too. 
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August 30, 2018, 10:55:47 AM
 #5

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consuming power that would otherwise go to waste.

I don't know if this is actually happening, but it does sound plausible as I'd assume that countries with surplus electricity supplies would have pretty cheap, which attracts bitcoin miners there.

Obviously, the main message behind all this is that it doesn't really matter how much energy something uses, as long as it is reasonable, it is producing something of benefit, and most importantly, energy sources are sustainable and renewable (green).

I think it's definitely possible for bitcoin mining to produce demand for cheap, locally sourced energy, which generally is hydro at the moment, though this process could take time. Bottom line is that I don't think that people should be worried about bitcoin's energy consumption as much as they do right now. It's minuscule in the grand scheme of things, and as long as it uses responsibly generated energy, it really is a non-issue. Otherwise, perhaps we should shut down Visa and Mastercard's networks then?

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August 30, 2018, 11:24:01 AM
 #6

I remember reading an article on bitcoin mining where there was a proposed idea to create a hydroelectric dam that would generate clean energy for the miners.

If I remember correctly it was a Chinese entrepreneur that had this in mind, so I guess there is some indirect drive (from bitcoin) to create energy from renewable sources.
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August 30, 2018, 11:49:17 AM
 #7

Green energy has become one of the rapidly increasing industry in the world. As world moves more to digitization there is a huge demand of energy and there is necessity of clean and green energy. And with the use of bitcoin and other currencies there seems we will have a high demand in future too. 

You're right that bitcoin or other digital currencies have a high demand for our nature, but it is a unavoidable thing in future. People just probably moan and speculate about the high consume energy of bitcoin but they hardly to stop it. The growth and improvement of digital currency will always continue, even it is claimed consuming much energy.

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August 30, 2018, 08:24:33 PM
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 #8

Currently the majority of miner are located in china.
And china's energy is to 66% generated by coal-fired power plants.  That's by far not a 'low carbon footprint'.

There's no reason to utilize coal generated electricity in bitcoin mining operations.

Tell that to those guys in Montana:

https://www.ccn.com/u-s-senator-warns-closing-montana-coal-plant-will-hurt-bitcoin-mining-industry/

Quote
Besides the low energy costs, the naturally-cold temperatures have also served to make the state of Montana a favorite with bitcoin mining firms, as such an environment reduces cooling expenses. Notably, some of the biggest bitcoin mining facilities in North America are located in Western Montana. This includes CryptoWatt LLC, which operates a facility located in Butte and has an agreement with the Colstrip coal plant for the supply of 64MW ,making it one of the biggest users of electricity in the state

There isn't a scenario where a mining operation will opt for coal or oil above hydroelectric energy.

Well, if one is not enough:

Bitcoin mining’s growing demand for cheap energy revived a shuttered coal mine

You were saying....

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August 30, 2018, 08:42:04 PM
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Bitcoin miners would surely opt for greener sources of energy if it were cheaper and easily accessible, but given that traditional coal power plants are giving their arm and leg to get such deals on these power-hungry miners, I'd say that most of the time, mining operators are still getting their energy from such traditional sources. Also, the setup for greener, low-carbon energy production is still not viable for large-scale operations that only a small percentage of users are enjoying it, though miners, if they have the money, can create one themselves and just use their harnessed energy for their operations.

It will be a long qay before greener energy is available for households and industries alike, knowing that the demand for coal-powered energy is still over the roof.

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August 30, 2018, 09:14:21 PM
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I really like Antonopolous and OP approach to Bitcoin green subsidy capability. In my opinion it is a very valid point but it only counterbalance the negative effects which are them very present.

By negative I mean that theoretical perpetual race towards more hashrate and more energy consumptipn which in the end is more waste than anything else.  I wonder what solutions outside of the free market there really is to.limit this waste.

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August 30, 2018, 11:12:35 PM
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Bitcoin miners would surely opt for greener sources of energy if it were cheaper and easily accessible, but given that traditional coal power plants are giving their arm and leg to get such deals on these power-hungry miners, I'd say that most of the time, mining operators are still getting their energy from such traditional sources.

It will take years before renewable energy becomes widely available and efficient enough to cover electricity needs in areas where weather is not suitable for this kind of investment. Recently, a New York firm started using an old dam as a place for mining Bitcoin. Cheap, renewable energy and there should not be any problems with cooling. That investment should pay off quite fast.

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August 30, 2018, 11:40:47 PM
 #12

Otherwise, perhaps we should shut down Visa and Mastercard's networks then?
In that sense we can just as easily shut down the entire banking system. This whole Bitcoin's energy consumption circus is being rehashed over and over again just because there is nothing else of negative nature to highlight.

Back in the days Bitcoin was constantly blamed for criminal use, and now that's no longer a thing with how people have noticed that there is no privacy in Bitcoin, skeptics have to find something else to moan about.

It's funny how so many people claim that Bitcoin is worthless, but yet they find it interesting enough to keep talking about it, and that year after year. It's likely that these skeptics will become future Bitcoin users.

If it was that worthless they would just ignore it. Wink

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August 31, 2018, 06:11:04 AM
 #13

Bitcoin mining does consume a lot of energy but virtually all of it comes from a sector with a low carbon footprint.

Currently the majority of miner are located in china.
And china's energy is to 66% generated by coal-fired power plants.  That's by far not a 'low carbon footprint'.

Still.. compared to banks and their energy usage.. that's nothing in comparison.



This could help to make solar panels, hydroelectric plants and windmills more cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels on a kilowatt per dollar basis.

Using the unused energy from renewable sources which can't be injected into the grid for mining is a very nice idea.
I believe this can be established pretty cost-efficiently.
Compared to a Bitcoin mining farm I don’t think banks can even consume up to 20% of what a bitcoin mining farms can consume in a day. Lol, what is even banks that consumes too much energy, is it their photocopiers or what exactly? I don’t know if you have ever mined bitcoin before, trust me it consumes a lot.

I just wish they would find a way to solve this problem of being power hungry, altcoins are not like that, they are very easy to mine and does not consume much of anything. I have seen a lot of them that are easy to setup and all you need is just your computer and a electricity.

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August 31, 2018, 06:50:32 AM
 #14

Bitcoin mining does consume a lot of energy but virtually all of it comes from a sector with a low carbon footprint.

Currently the majority of miner are located in china.
And china's energy is to 66% generated by coal-fired power plants.  That's by far not a 'low carbon footprint'.

Still.. compared to banks and their energy usage.. that's nothing in comparison.



This could help to make solar panels, hydroelectric plants and windmills more cost effective alternatives to fossil fuels on a kilowatt per dollar basis.

Using the unused energy from renewable sources which can't be injected into the grid for mining is a very nice idea.
I believe this can be established pretty cost-efficiently.
Compared to a Bitcoin mining farm I don’t think banks can even consume up to 20% of what a bitcoin mining farms can consume in a day. Lol, what is even banks that consumes too much energy, is it their photocopiers or what exactly? I don’t know if you have ever mined bitcoin before, trust me it consumes a lot.

I just wish they would find a way to solve this problem of being power hungry, altcoins are not like that, they are very easy to mine and does not consume much of anything. I have seen a lot of them that are easy to setup and all you need is just your computer and a electricity.

Banks don't consume so much energy directly, we all know that, but banks support oil and coal companies, when you understand that you will see how bad banks are in all possible ways, they support wrong ideas.
World is not able to solve problem with energy at the moment, consumption is growing with fast rates, I hope that something will change, that we will see some breakthrough in finding source of renewable energy big enough to supply entire world, but for now we have enemies that oppose that ideas and we know who they are, banking sector, oil and coal sectors, they are strong and they won't let new things to rise, they are centralized entities, that's why people should support decentralization, it's the light in the dark tunnel.


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August 31, 2018, 06:58:23 AM
 #15

If the production of solar panels increses x2 times,their price will be reduced by 25%.This is proven to work and cryptocurrency mining can actually help for increasing the market demand for solar panels,hence their production.Countries like Germany will have huge amounts of cheap green energy,because they are using lots of solar panels during the last 20 years and their green energy investments had paid off.
The myth that crypto minng is wasting too much "dirty" electricity will be busted soon.

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August 31, 2018, 04:06:27 PM
 #16

energy need is one of the most important problems of today. In particular, as mining becomes more widespread, the need for energy has increased even more, and some countries are experiencing energy problems. after that we need more green energy.
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September 02, 2018, 08:12:38 AM
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There's no reason to utilize coal generated electricity in bitcoin mining operations.

Tell that to those guys in Montana:

https://www.ccn.com/u-s-senator-warns-closing-montana-coal-plant-will-hurt-bitcoin-mining-industry/

Quote
Besides the low energy costs, the naturally-cold temperatures have also served to make the state of Montana a favorite with bitcoin mining firms, as such an environment reduces cooling expenses. Notably, some of the biggest bitcoin mining facilities in North America are located in Western Montana. This includes CryptoWatt LLC, which operates a facility located in Butte and has an agreement with the Colstrip coal plant for the supply of 64MW ,making it one of the biggest users of electricity in the state

There isn't a scenario where a mining operation will opt for coal or oil above hydroelectric energy.

Well, if one is not enough:

Bitcoin mining’s growing demand for cheap energy revived a shuttered coal mine

You were saying....

Good find! Merited you for that.

I didn't realize the US government was subsidizing the cost of coal power for bitcoin mining. (Bolded the parts which imply state subsidies)

Quote
There is also the Bonner Bitcoin data center, which until recently was one of the largest in the world, as CCN reported two months ago. Last year, according to the Missoula Economic Partnership, an initiative aimed at promoting business activities in the Western Montana city of Missoula, the Bonner facility was expected to expand from the then 12,000 mining rigs to 55,000.

Montana’s pro-cryptocurrency bona fides are also proven by the fact that its state government is the first in the U.S. to offer a grant to a bitcoin mining operation. Last year in June, the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, announced that out of the $1,124,030 that had been allocated as economic development grants to assist main street businesses in creating jobs, training employees, and planning for growth, $416,000 would go to a bitcoin miner named Project Spokane.

“Missoula County received $416,000 of BSTF Job Creation funds to assist Project Spokane, LLC to expand, which will allow the company to create 65 new jobs in Bonner,” said a press release from Bullock’s office. “The BSTF funds will be used for purchase of equipment, machinery, furniture and software and for wage reimbursement. Project Spokane, LLC is a data center that provides blockchain security services for the bitcoin network.”

They mislabel the programs as being "economic partnerships" and "job creation funds".

But in reality, I suspect those are clear cut examples of the government subsidizing coal power.

Without those state subsidies for coal, these bitcoin miners may have have opted for hydroelectric power instead.

The government could easily have chosen to subsidize wind, solar or hydroelectric energy instead of coal in these cases. Could be cases of economic protectionism driving the government to subsidize less environmentally friendly and less cost effective forms of energy.

Interesting cases here.   Smiley  I thought I was 100% correct when I said there was no reason to select coal energy over hydroelectric. I never imagined governments would subsidize it.

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September 02, 2018, 08:34:49 PM
 #18

As I live in the developing country I have not noticed any particular changes and innovations. Perhaps it is not my business but what countries are you talking about? I suppose you are talking about USA, EU, and probably some Asian countries. Anyway I like that the positive changes are being happened because of course it is an absurd to burn coal and other fossil in the 21 century. I hope that such tendencies will come to my country in the near or far future. By the way I am wondering is it profitable to use green energy instead of using traditional power sources?   
magneto
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September 03, 2018, 12:11:49 PM
 #19

Interesting read.

I actually never realised that bitcoin was actually in fact using the overwhelming supply of sustainably produced electricity that far outweighs the demand normally within the energy markets. If that's the case, then that's simply more the reason to not be worrying about the non-issue of bitcoin energy consumption.

It's probably a huge contributing factor to why sustainable energy hasn't taken off fully yet, because there isn't enough profits being made from selling the energy at its full generation capacity. Bitcoin mining could be the equaliser here in terms of really being able to pick up the demand for the wasted energy.

Even without consuming this wasted energy, people need to start realising that bitcoin mining is no more harmful to Earth than something like banks processing transactions, simply because what matters more is how the energy is generated, not how much is used.

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September 05, 2018, 11:39:42 AM
 #20

~

Good find! Merited you for that.

I didn't realize the US government was subsidizing the cost of coal power for bitcoin mining. (Bolded the parts which imply state subsidies)

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They mislabel the programs as being "economic partnerships" and "job creation funds".

But in reality, I suspect those are clear cut examples of the government subsidizing coal power.

Without those state subsidies for coal, these bitcoin miners may have have opted for hydroelectric power instead.

The government could easily have chosen to subsidize wind, solar or hydroelectric energy instead of coal in these cases. Could be cases of economic protectionism driving the government to subsidize less environmentally friendly and less cost effective forms of energy.

Interesting cases here.   Smiley  I thought I was 100% correct when I said there was no reason to select coal energy over hydroelectric. I never imagined governments would subsidize it.

Well, I don't like John Oliver's view but he sometimes nails it. See this.

People in the government will subsidize everything if at least on paper it will bring them new jobs or help maintain the actual jobs. And in theory, it's a good thing, till you run into situations where the government is wasting more money than it would have spent by directly paying the wages of x10 more people.

You know from the discussions we've carried here I'm no fan of PoW (but no idea on how to change it  Cry ) and I'm no fan of painting BTC as the Virgin Mary in everything.

Miners are business, they will burn coal, they will use solar, they will burn Care Bears for fuel if it's cheaper, they are not some non-profit organization, in reality, they are as ruthless as Chevron or Nestle....after all...they are doing this for the money not for anything else.

You and others have to understand that this so-called green energy innovation is close to propaganda. We have reached the moment where BTC has become a business, just like oil, gold or everything else. There are groups that are interested in painting an image, and they will do what others have done in the past, simply lie in your face.

Look at the article you've quoted:

Quote
Canada’s largest utility, Hydro-Quebec, is a perfect example. Reuters reports that “the province estimates it will have an energy surplus equivalent to 100 terawatt hours over the next 10 years. One terawatt hour powers 60,000 homes in Quebec during a year.”

Not surprisingly, Bitcoin mining operations have inundated Hydro-Quebec with applications to make use of the surplus. As such, profits have been steady, a whopping annual average of roughly $3 billion over the past four years.

Cryptominers are stuck in limbo as Hydro-Québec suspends requests for power

Canada's Quebec halts crypto mining projects, may raise fees

Where is the truth?  Cry Cry


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