Hackernoon logoWe Need More Sustainable Ways to Support Crypto’s Energy Consumption by@KaylaEMatthews

We Need More Sustainable Ways to Support Crypto’s Energy Consumption

Kayla Matthews Hacker Noon profile picture

@KaylaEMatthewsKayla Matthews

Freelance Writer

People often talk about cryptocurrency as an exciting new investment opportunity and mention how it could eliminate dependency on bank accounts and expensive money-transferring services.

However, what they sometimes don’t discuss is how the cryptocurrency mining process uses a tremendous amount of energy.

If cryptocurrency is to have a truly sustainable future, people must take energy consumption seriously — more specifically, they need to look for practical ways to reduce it.

Study Finds Crypto Mining’s Energy Consumption Matches Ireland’s

The knowledge that cryptocurrency requires a significant amount of power is not new. However, when statistics discovered Bitcoin mining uses as much energy as Ireland, the finding emphasized how crucial it is for people to uncover more sustainable solutions for the cryptocurrency mining industry.

Indeed, some experts do not agree with the research methods used — but even so, it’s clear that the energy used for mining is not a small amount, and efforts to make the practice more sustainable are welcome. So, which techniques are being tried, and are they worthwhile?

3M Scientists Engineer a New Cooling Technique

One of the energy-consuming culprits of cryptocurrency mining relates to the heat given off by the equipment. Traditional cooling methods are typically energy intensive, exacerbating the energy-use problem. Nevertheless, a team at 3M came up with a new way to cool equipment — open-bath, or passive two-phase, immersion cooling.

In short, it requires cooling vessels kept at barometric pressure. Representatives from the company Allied Control were eager to apply the process to Bitcoin mining. They used it at the world’s most grandiose immersion cooling data center in the country of Georgia. Before that project, Allied Control deployed the technology to set up a data center that was energy and cost-efficient in an office setting.

A Giant Wind Farm Getting Built in Morocco

Many efforts to reduce crypto’s energy consumption are similar to more generalized attempts to cut dependence on fossil fuels — they focus on renewable energy. For example, Soluna Technologies is creating a wind farm in Dakhla, Morocco, and believe it could make a dent in overall energy usage.

That particular location is exceptionally windy, meaning conditions should be ideal. Additionally, the site is twice the size of Manhattan.

The company has a notable goal in mind, too. It aims to be the first vertically integrated blockchain company made sustainable by internally available green power. The organization wants to complete the project by early-to-mid 2020 and is reviewing bids by turbine makers.

The Potential for Relying on Compressed Air to Store Energy

Numerous industries depend on compressed air, from the automotive sector to food and beverage companies. Cryptominers often use compressed air to clean out their equipment as a maintenance practice.

Additionally, people interested in sustainable energy are hopeful about possibly using an emerging method called compressed air energy storage (CAES). Advocates for the practice assert it could reduce countries’ carbon footprints and offer excellent efficiency, meaning it might become a way to reduce mining’s energy consumption.

Exploring Sustainable Methods Takes Time and Willingness

There’s an argument that using cryptocurrencies ethically requires sustainable methods, especially since climate change has already demonstrated what happens when people lean on non-sustainable activities for too long. That is a valid point to make, but prioritizing eco-friendly mining methods takes time, and for cryptocurrency miners especially, time is money.

Miners can earn $125,000 in only ten minutes, subject to prices. The most profitable ones have robust equipment, including high-powered computers. Estimates made in March 2018 point out that mining is becoming less valuable to the point where some miners may only break even.

Although the methods described above seem promising, there is a chance any new application of technology could come with unforeseen issues that make it not as profitable as expected. Or, perhaps a mining technology could reduce the prominence of one environmental concern while worsening another.

In other words, investigating new cryptomining opportunities requires people to exercise patience and realize the probability of some unexpected outcomes that make it necessary to tweak parts of the process. Some companies may need to successfully interest investors in their projects, too.

People who are eager to start mining and start generating profits as quickly as possible aren’t suitable for pioneering methods — yet those who have a long-term viewpoint and are committed to the planet might be the right match.

Too Early to Predict the Payoff

It’s not yet possible to say for sure whether sustainability-promoting mining methods will prove sufficiently feasible for the future.

The fact they’re being explored, though, is positive as it shows a responsibility towards our planet.

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