In the wake of increasing concerns about the effect, cryptocurrency mining has on the environment, a math teacher in Iceland has come up with a way to solve the problem by using farmers’ excess geothermal energy, Wired reported on October 22, 2018.
Iceland’s Farmers Have a Cunning Plan to Solve Crypto’s Energy Crisis
Cryptocurrency mining requires massive amounts of energy, with Wired reporting that Iceland’s crypto mining industry, one of the world’s most vibrant thanks to cheap, geothermal energy, saps around 840GWh – more than the homes of the country’s 334,252 citizens.
As the country’s loose regulations, cool climate, and cheap energy continue to attract large-scale mining operations, both politicians and Icelanders are beginning to warn about crypto’s environmental impact.
Krista Hannesdóttir, a math teacher living in Iceland, has discovered a way to be small and competitive, even when faced with mining giants such as BitFury and Genesis, both of whom occupy space at Ásbrú, a sprawling former US Air Force base in Keflavík.
Hannesdóttir’s modest mining operation located in a small former fishing factory near Iceland’s Keflavík Airport extracts £7,876-worth of the Ethereum cryptocurrency each month. Her rig, based in the mall seaside town of Sandgerði, comprises 180 fan-cooled P102 GPU machines, can remain profitable without the need to scale.
Utilizing Farmers’ Excess Geothermal Energy
She pays farmers for their excess geothermal energy, installs crypto mining equipment and uses the machines’ excess power for other uses, like heating. “Farmers have a lot of storage space, so it’s easier for us to move our equipment to their location,” she told Wired. “You can also heat up the storage space, which is quite clean. So generally speaking, it’s reducing rent, and reducing energy cost.”
And Hannesdóttir is not alone. Startups around the world are also attempting to reduce the environmental impact mining has. French company Qarnot has created a heater that mines crypto while warming homes and last November two builders from Siberia heated a house with two bitcoin mines, operating at a profit of £327 per month.
However, despite the positive effects of Hannesdóttir’s operation, farmers are keeping quiet about the cryptocurrencies being mined on their land. Selling excess power to miners could jeopardize subsidies they receive for geothermal energy use, and the legality of the whole operation is still largely unclear.
Hannesdóttir agrees that crypto mining, in its current form, is completely unsustainable. “There is basically no reason to mine, other than the effect of decentralization,” she said. And while many commend her commitment to the cause, Colin LeMahieu, creator of Nano, a blockchain payment platform, said that eco-friendliness is incompatible with the mining component used in cryptocurrencies.
Featured image by Down the Street Designs