Over the course of the past few years, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining have been often referred to an incredible usage of electricity, that is estimated to be as high as 0.5 percent of the global electricity consumption. In addition to the energy needed for running the mining equipment, which are either graphics processing units (GPUs) or central processing units (CPUs), it also takes a lot of power to cool down the facilities that are running so-called mining rigs.
Environment activists around the world took this as a reason to go on the warpath and heavily criticize the current development of the blockchain industry. However, with so much energy involved, there are must be some ways to make mining electricity green. Some mining operators advertised with only using electricity that has been generated through renewable energy. Then there are also some clever engineers, that found a way to recycle the heat generated through miners, in order to provide private and industrial houses with literally free heat.
How does it work
The creative idea of recycling heat of cryptocurrency miners came up from a Canadian start-up called Heatmine. The company has been active in the mining industry since 2012, developing a cryptocurrency powered heating unit to supply private households, as well as warehouses, greenhouses and outdoor pools. Inside a heating unit, that consists of 63 GPUs, copper cooling devices are used to absorb the heat in order to warm up water that is streaming through the device. The hot water will then be directed into a central water heating system, where it provides several rooms with heat.
According to a press release of the company, one unit produces as much as 75,000 British thermal units (BTU), which is sufficient to heat up to 300 square meters for 24 hours a day. The best thing about this: the value of the cryptocurrencies generated through the mining process is expected to completely cover the electricity costs, essentially generating free heat for the customer. Through decentralizing cryptocurrency miners, Heatmine accelerates cryptocurrency adoption while simultaneously solving heating problems in northern and colder nations.
During first field tests in the previous months, the project already received positive feedback from greenhouse owners and churches. Guy and Maxime Beland, who produce Canadian strawberries in a greenhouse, previously had a chance to test Heatmine units in their daily operations. “The energy consumed for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, as well as supplemental lighting in our greenhouse, represents the most important cost for us,” they said. “By using Heatmine for our greenhouse, we were able to significantly reduce our production costs and were as competitive on prices as Mexican strawberries.”
Where is adoption happening?
The demand for inexpensive heating devices is big, especially in countries that are located within the northern hemisphere. Cold regions, such as Canada, Finland or Norway, require up to ten months of constant heating per year. Such enormous demand amounts to a total spending on heating to up to CAD 5 billion per year in the Canadian region Quebec. Heating units that are powered by cryptocurrency miners could basically be installed everywhere in the world. In terms of Heatmine, the only requirement is to have a central water heating system.
Such a system appears to be quite common in Canada, as the main heat providing system is using boiled water as a heating source. As Heatmine CEO Jonathan Forte puts in reference to Heatmine’s applicability:
“Our solution will grow into the electric heat market: an electric network already designed.”
What does the future hold
Bitcoin’s enormous energy consumption was often referred to as one of the main disadvantages of the disruptive technology of cryptocurrencies. However, when comparing the resources that are needed for producing and distributing fiat currencies, it becomes very clear that people should rather complain about the Dollar or the Euro instead of Bitcoin. Furthermore, if Bitcoin’s energy can now be used twice – for running the system and for heating buildings, we obviously found a clear winner of the long-existing energy debate.
If we can now build on revolutionary concepts like Heatmine, we are looking into a future where cryptocurrencies will be simply adopted because they can be used to pay the bills to supply a household.