When it comes mining Bitcoin or any other digital currency, the goal is to keep operational and energy costs to a minimum to ensure maximum profitability.
Up until recently, that need for optimal energy costs has sent a good deal of mining to China, where electricity is subsidized and cheap. However, most of these facilities in China are powered by coal-fired stations which have been proven to be harmful to the environment.
While some suggest that we should seek to slow the growth of the blockchain revolution, the industry is creating so many beneficial technologies, and therefore should be encouraged to grow, in sustainable ways. As a decentralized technology, blockchain has the potential to solve countless security issues, increase fairness in markets, and reduce corruption all around the world.
The solution, then, isn’t to curtail Bitcoin mining, but is to take advantage of green energy innovation.
The following five renewable energy technologies can (and should) be taken advantage of by the Blockchain mining industry to help drive sustainable growth:
Geothermal energy is a completely renewable source of energy because it comes from heat stored within the Earth. One of the things that makes Earth an ideal planet for life is our molten iron core. It provides a magnetosphere that protects us from harmful radiation and other space-borne threats, and it produces heat that we can convert into electricity.
Places like Iceland, where volcanic activity pushes that heat closer to the surface, allow us to tap into this power at an affordable rate and with almost no environmental impact. Of all the renewable energy technologies, geothermal power provides some of the most consistent power output because it doesn’t rely on unpredictable aspects of mother nature, like wind or sunlight. Additionally, geothermal energy is plentiful, with a total worldwide capacity of 12,894 MW.
One major drawback of geothermal energy is that it has been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Consequently, drilling and exploration for geothermal energy is very expensive. However, recent advances in technology have expanded the range and size of viable geothermal resources. As a result, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% in the past 20 years, with geothermal costs per kWh now ranging from 6 to 8 cents per kWh.
Of all the renewable energy technologies, solar power is the most widely used. Photovoltaic panels use radiation from the sun to produce electricity, generating green energy wherever there is consistent sunlight.
The cost of solar power has decreased since 2013 by more than 60%, and has actually reached grid parity in many locations. Commercial solar costs are now $0.07 per kWh and utility grade solar is at $0.06 per kWh. In 2016, total global solar power installed capacity reached 302 GW, which is roughly 1.3–1.8% of total worldwide electricity demands. This figure is predicted to reach 500 GW by 2020. Experts predict that by 2050, solar power will be the largest source of electricity globally.
One reason solar power is so desirable is that it is easy to install and maintain. However, solar panel output is impacted by weather and pollution; if it’s cloudy outside, solar electricity output can decrease by 40% or more. Output also varies throughout the year as the sun’s path changes. Summer typically yields the most electricity.
Solar panel efficiency is measured by the portion of sunlight that Photovoltaic panels can convert into useful energy. In most cases, efficiency levels of solar power range from 14% to 23%.
Another drawback with solar power is that output stops at night. This challenge can be offset by feeding excess power into the grid during the day. Since this method offsets nighttime consumption, it has become known as a “virtual power station.” Solar providers and users who do this can receive financial incentives via a feed-in tariff, or they can be credited through net-metering.
Another solution is to store excess power generated during the day in energy storage systems that can then be used at night. Battery technology is still quite expensive, although major technological advances are being made in this space. It is likely that energy storage costs will start coming down in the next few years, as commercial production and competition increases.
Waste energy uses various waste outputs as sources for recycled energy. This approach can be divided into two technology streams: thermal and non-thermal.
Thermal waste energy plants incinerate organic waste to produce heat. That heat is used to drive a steam turbine to produce electricity. Although this technology produces some CO2 emissions and other toxic gases, it tends to emit fewer CO2 emissions than other outdated non-renewable approaches, thanks to strict emission controls enforced by Europe and other energy-conscious markets…