Cryptocurrency miner Mintgreen has agreed to a deal to supply the city of North Vancouver, Canada with heat generated from bitcoin mining beginning in the winter of 2022. The firm is working with Lonsdale Energy Corp., the utility currently providing energy to the city.
Mintgreen is a renewable and clean energy startup that uses bitcoin (BTC) mining to monetize heat generation. The company builds and manages large-scale mining systems that earn money from crypto, the sale of heat as well as from tax credits.
Colin Sullivan, chief executive officer of Mintgreen, said the firm has developed a technology that can recover 96% of electricity used for bitcoin mining as heat energy. The heat is then redirected into households and commercial buildings for a fee.
The proprietary technology, which utilizes what Mintgreen calls “Digital Boilers” to capture heat from mining, is expected to prevent the equivalent of 22,000 metric tons in carbon emissions per megawatt, according to a statement released on Oct. 14. North Vancouver is targeting to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
At launch sometime in 2022, the heat will be sold to customers occupying around 100 residential and commercial properties in North Vancouver, a city of just over 50,000 people. This will be Mintgreen’s “first” large-scale deployment of its technology, Sullivan said.
Clean bitcoin mining
Apart from this, bitcoin miners have also started to experiment with the use of what is called stranded, flared and vented natural gas to power their mining rigs. Ordinarily, this is gas that will either go to waste or is burnt. As in the case of electricity converted to heat, the use of stranded natural gas in BTC mining reduces carbon emissions.
Solar-powered rigs are also getting attention mainly because they are run on renewable energy while offering a considerably cheaper way to extract bitcoin – once payment for the solar panel is done, mining almost becomes a cost-free enterprise. For example, an individual miner set up an operation in the desert with 25 Antminer asics in 2017 and reported making significant profit.
Scientists blame the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide for causing climate change. Now, bitcoin mining, an energy-intensive operation, is also caught in the matrix. Steeped in tradition, some academics and economists have criticized the process by which new bitcoins are minted, often called mining, claiming it fuels climate change.
They say that mining consumes too much electricity generated from fossil fuels like coal, a major source of carbon emissions. However, a 2018 study by UK crypto asset management firm Coinshares revealed that the majority of bitcoin miners — about 78% — use renewable energy to power their mining operations, while preventing surplus electricity from going to waste.
The study concluded that “bitcoin mining may in fact be acting as an electricity buyer of last resort,” contrary to the mainstream media construct of it being an environmental nuisance. But that was before China’s recent crackdown on all cryptocurrency activities, including mining, which was big in the populous Asian country.
Still, renewables dominate in mines throughout the Paciﬁc Northwest, in U.S. states such as Washington and Oregon, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. And there are many miners using renewable energy in Scandinavia. Altogether, these regions extract more than 50% of the global bitcoin total.
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