Cryptocurrency Mining Environmental Concerns
For those who aren’t in the markets the biggest concern with cryptocurrencies is their reliance on ‘mining’. Mining is the process of verifying transactions on the network.
Bitcoin, for example, is designed to be resource intensive to mine by requiring huge amounts of computing power.
Such computing power requires similarly huge amounts of electricity to the point of causing blackouts. It also generates a huge amount of heat.
As general electricity demand and the levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise this aspect of cryptocurrencies have attracted the most scrutiny from politicians and environmentalists.
The strong connection between the price of cryptocurrencies and mining activities was evidenced even more in 2017 by the rise of Ethereum mining.
This activity resulted in the consequent shortage of the PC video cards used to mine them.
These short-term problems may abate as the cryptocurrency market cools off. However, the problems of electricity consumption and environmental damage look set to continue at largely the same rate.
Furthermore, it is still likely that cryptocurrency networks will be supported by a lot of dedicated computers that perform no other function.
Despite the fact that Proof-of-Stake are beginning to replace Proof-of-Work as a more efficient consensus mechanisms.
What if the by-products of cryptocurrency mining could be put to good use?
Utilizing Excess Mining Heat
One suggestion is the ‘Crypto-Heater’. Manufactured by French company Qarnot, this heating unit uses the excess heat produced by graphics cards used to mine Ethereum to warm a room.
This concept offers a plug-and-play solution for users to make money mining while they heat their homes. Qarnot claims that one unit can heat up a room ranging from 150-300 square feet.
Another example are the comically named ‘Cryptomatoes’. These tomatoes represent how we can use excess mining heat to grow produce. For example, using the excess heat produced by a much larger mining operation to feed crops grown in a greenhouse. The mining operation in question is powered by bio-waste making it possibly the first to have closed the energy cycle loop.
Thanks to the innovative spirit of the cryptocurrency community, projects like these show how cryptocurrency mining and the wider cryptocurrency infrastructure can fit in with and even benefit our existing society.