Who Needs Coal When You Have Cow Dung? Cryptocurrency Mining Goes Brown
Proof-of-Work (PoW) cryptocurrency mining has been the subject of bad press in recent times. Critics argue that excessive energy consumption, and its use of fossil fuels, are wasteful and causing irreparable damage to the environment.
But, UK-based entrepreneur Josh Riddett hopes to change that with his renewable energy business, which turns cow dung into energy through anaerobic digestion.
Farmers Use Dung To Power Cryptocurrency Miners
Riddett set up Easy Crypto Hunter in 2017, selling mining equipment to farmers, who, in turn, use it to harness cow dung into energy.
In the past, farmers that generated renewable energy would typically sell that power to energy companies at a going rate of £0.04 to £0.07 per kilowatt-hour ($0.056 to $0.099). But with the rise in popularity of digital currencies, farmers soon realized they could make ten times as much mining cryptocurrency instead.
“The company’s mining rigs typically retail for £18,000 ($25,000) and have averaged approximately £30,000 each in annual profit over a three-year period, with the bulk of these gains made in 2021 as digital currencies won institutional acceptance.”
Riddett said business has been booming recently, as more farmers cotton on to the idea of incorporating cryptocurrency mining into their agricultural operations.
Bitcoin is the most recognizable of all cryptocurrencies, but Riddett said his equipment isn’t geared up to mine BTC. Instead, he gave the examples of Ravencoin and Ethereum as popular choices.
“Our computers are capable of mining hundreds of different digital currencies but we don’t mine bitcoin because it’s not as energy efficient as other coins and it’s not as profitable.”
Unlike Bitcoin, both Ravencoin and Ethereum offer varying degrees of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) resistance. Meaning, the use of ASIC mining equipment to mine these cryptocurrencies offers little advantage.
ASIC miners are electronic circuits specifically designed to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They offer efficiency advantages over standard graphics cards, which are designed for games. Thus, ASIC miners are more profitable.
At the same time, everyday people cannot mine on ASIC networks efficiently. Large corporations with deep pockets dominate this sector, competing with the latest ASIC miners while basing operations in the cheapest energy spots.
Some argue that ASIC networks foster centralization, which contradicts the primary tenet of cryptocurrency.
What Is Anaerobic Digestion?
Anaerobic digestion uses bacteria to break down organic matter, including animal dung and food wastes, within a sealed container and in the absence of oxygen.
The microbial communities within the containers digest the waste product to produce both biogas and digestate. The digestate is used for fertilizer and similar agricultural products, while biogas can be turned into energy.
Methane (CH4) accounts for up to 75% of biogas, with the remaining portion made up of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and water vapor. Biogas is used in the same way as natural gas.