Any miner is aware of the heightened amount of energy needed for each computer and device to record items on the blockchain.
However, this energy has only been used so far in the mining process, though there is a mining company that believes it can be expanded on. The company, Heatmine, is based out of Quebec, which already uses renewable sources primarily, minimizing their carbon footprint. However, Heatmine took things a little further, creating a new opportunity with the heat produced by mining machines.
The first step of testing out this process was with their own warehouse. Jeremy Dahan, the COO of Heatmine, commented,
“We’re in Quebec–it’s very cold 10 months of the year. So, we started recycling the heat.”
They used this heat to warm the water in their facility at the time.
Since then, there has been a lot of progression. The company has been working on a network of decentralized mining machines, which would be used to connect to heat machines in another area, like a business or home. Basically, a mining machine is directly connected with a heating system that uses the heat for various application as it mines Bitcoin.
In a test that Heatmine recently performed, they wanted to see how this product would fair in a greenhouse to grow strawberries. Explaining the use case, Dahan said,
“Most of the farmers have an issue because they don’t make any profit because they spend a lot of money on the heat and electricity.”
By implementing this system, the heat could be covered up to 100%. The strawberries thrived with a cheap enough cost that it was able to compete with imported berries from Mexico.
The machines vary, though one can offer up to 75,000 BTU in an hour, which is enough to heat up to 300 square meters for an entire day. For companies with larger buildings, additional units should be installed. It works in both professional and personal spaces alike, much like how some buildings use otherwise wasted energy from servers or how data centers funnel their heat into neighborhoods.
Mining Bitcoin creates a large carbon footprint, but the recycling of that energy with Heatmine is a small way to start alleviating that. In fact, one estimate says that the industry as a whole uses enough energy that it could power the whole of Ireland with the equivalent amount. Another study said that, if the growth rate matches the rate that similar technologies grow, then it could produce enough emissions to account for a rise in global warming by 2 degrees Celsius.
Even though there are changes that the industry should make as it progresses, the use of the waste heat is a helpful, albeit temporary, fix.
For the future, Heatmine plans to continue with their expansion through their home country. However, they also want to start distributing their devices in the United States in areas that have to deal with the cold more severely than others.