Clean Energy Sources That The Cryptocurrency Mining Industry Should Utilize
Blockchain technology and its most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, have been called of equal importance to the internet, capable of transforming businesses, government, and social interaction: the entire fabric of modern society. The enthusiasm—and the hype—are both inescapable and infectious.
But there is a darker side to the technology and the industry. We must recognize and address this danger soon, or else we run the risk of undoing decades of social and environmental progress. This threat is the immense energy consumption and potential climate impact of the blockchain and its two leading currencies, bitcoin and ethereum.
While some suggest that we should seek to slow the growth of the blockchain revolution, the industry is creating so many beneficial technologies, and therefore should be encouraged to grow, in sustainable ways. New innovations in green energy should be taken advantage of.
Given below is a list of 5 renewable energy technologies that should be taken advantage by the blockchain mining industry.
Geothermal energy is generally considered environmentally friendly. The carbon footprint of a geothermal power plant is minimal. Their reservoirs come from natural resources and are naturally replenished, therefore it is a renewable energy source. It is excellent for the base load energy demand, as opposed to other renewables such as wind and solar.
Places like Iceland, where volcanic activity pushes that heat closer to the surface, allow us to tap into this power at an affordable rate and with almost no environmental impact. Of all the renewable energy technologies, geothermal power provides some of the most consistent power output because it doesn’t rely on unpredictable aspects of nature, like wind or sunlight.
One major drawback of Geothermal energy is that it is very location specific. Iceland and Philippines meet nearly one-third of their electricity demand with geothermal energy. Another one is that commercial geothermal power projects are expensive. Total costs usually end up somewhere between $2 – 7 million for a geothermal power plant with a capacity of 1 megawatt (MW).
Solar Power is the most widely used renewable energy technology. The cost of solar power has decreased since 2013 by more than 60% and has actually reached grid parity in many locations. Commercial solar costs are now $0.07 per kWh and utility-grade solar is at $0.06 per kWh. In 2016, total global solar power installed capacity reached 302 GW, which is roughly 1.3–1.8% of total worldwide electricity demands. Experts predict that by 2050, solar power will be the largest source of electricity globally.
However, solar panel output is impacted by weather and pollution; if it’s cloudy outside, solar electricity output can decrease by 40% or more. Another disadvantage is that the more electricity you want to produce, the more solar panels you will need.
Waste energy is one of the least glamorous sources of clean energy. It uses various waste outputs as sources for recycled energy. This approach can be divided into two technology streams: thermal and non-thermal. Thermal waste energy plants incinerate organic waste to produce heat. That heat is used to drive a steam turbine to produce electricity. The second type of waste-to-energy plant, non-thermal, uses bacteria to break down organic waste into methane gas. Methane gas is highly flammable and is burnt to drive a generator that produces electricity.
At the end of 2015, the U.S. had 71 waste-to-energy generating plants with 2.3 GWs of installed capacity in 20 states. Waste-to-energy plants typically have an efficiency of 14 to 28%. A major drawback of waste-to-energy plants is the need for a steady supply of organic waste. When utilizing waste-to-energy methods, long-term agreements with waste suppliers need to be put in place to secure consistent organic waste resources.
Hydropower takes mechanical energy from the flow of water and turns it into electrical energy. It is one of the oldest types of renewable energy technologies; the first hydropower plant was installed in Niagara Falls in 1879.
Two advantages that work synergetically with each other are the low cost and flexibility of the dams. The dams are relatively inexpensive to maintain, which reduces the financial burden that is usually expected when building large projects for longterm usage. Their ability to generate high amounts of energy helps to counter the costs of the dams. Their flexibility allows them to be built in many different bodies of water as they can be big or small to fit the needs of the people it is producing energy for.
However, Hydropower can be destructive to the local environment. This form of energy generation requires the damming of rivers, which can harm local wildlife if not done carefully. It is often necessary to conduct an environmental impact assessment to help prevent unforeseen complications.
As a relatively new renewable energy technology, tidal power has not yet received widespread adoption. However, there is potential for growth. The technology has traditionally suffered from high implementation costs, and there are a limited number of suitable sites with sufficient tidal ranges and velocities. However, recent advances have expanded the number of suitable sites. Implementation costs are also expected to come down as the technology scales.
A fair amount of time, money, and effort is required to conduct feasibility studies to identify suitable sites. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it is location specific. Most often tidal plants are built at places distant from the grid and this makes their connectivity to the grid difficult and expensive. Building a tidal plant affects the marine life of the surroundings. It has an impact on fish, other marine life, and seabirds.