Is it possible to run a bitcoin mining operation on solar power alone? Long-time bitcoin mining identity OgNasty, of NastyMining wants to find out with his Green Energy Project, announced on February 9th.
Green Bitcoin a Long-Term Goal for OgNasty
Speaking to Bitsonline, OgNasty said the move reflects his organization’s commitment to “socially responsible Bitcoin activities” since he started it in 2012. More practically, though, it also aims to cut running costs.
The Green Energy Project will start small, with two Bitmain Antminer S9 mining machines and one R4. Powering them will be 29 SunPower E20 327W solar AC Modules, installed on a rooftop between Yuma and Phoenix in Arizona. These two cities are the US’s #1 and #4 sunniest respectively.
To participate, interested parties must buy “seats” in OgNasty’s Bitcoin fan club, NastyFans. OgNasty added that, if successful, he’d be interesting in scaling his renewables project to something greater:
“I have considered how to expand to multiple sites in the future. The important things will be to do so in a way that benefits existing seat owners, maintains our unique no cost structure, and doesn’t require my oversight of the operation to be successful. There are members who are considering this solar project a proof of concept while they evaluate the potential of joining in donating their hashrate to NastyFans.”
OgNasty’s engineering design and site plan are now complete. The installation application is now with the local electricity company and homeowners’ association.
It will publish both energy output and hashing stats once it gets underway. NastyMining’s current hashrate, posted on BitcoinTalk, hovers around the 30 TH/s mark.
Experimenting With Other Renewables Too
Crypto exchange Yobit is also sponsoring a wind-power component of the project that will supplement the solar. However, OgNasty says wind turbines are more expensive and would probably not contribute more than 5 percent to its output.
“A big part of that is due to our area being more advantageous for solar energy production. However, I do like the cool factor of taking advantage of multiple technologies to produce green energy in different scenarios.”
Setup costs are around US $33,000, with government subsidies for renewable energy covering about 30%.
NastyFans’ Bitcoin Fan Club to Share Rewards
OgNasty has always taken a novel approach to bitcoin mining.
Operating as a mining pool and user-supported bitcoin mining operation, NastyFans has been incredibly popular with its members. All available seats are currently occupied. However NastyFans runs an auction site for users to buy and sell seats, often at a premium.
NastyFans promotes itself as a “Bitcoin fan club” rather than a cloud mining operation, although its users do earn financial rewards from their positions. These come from the NastyMining mining pool proceeds, but also include a percentage of proceeds from other sales, like mint physical bitcoins made from precious metals.
Cloud mining companies often face criticism for charging excessive operation fees, and for shutting down abruptly once they’re no longer profitable. OgNasty said NastyMining has zero operating costs, meaning its members never pay anything beyond their initial seat purchase. Additionally, its mining hashrate will only grow in the future.
Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact
A charge opponents often level against Bitcoin is the sheer amount of electricity its network of miners and nodes consumes. In 2016, Motherboard reported an environmental researcher’s estimate that it could consume as much energy as Denmark by 2020.
For those concerned at the environmental impact of existing power generation methods, that sounds extreme. And even those who aren’t concerned have an interest in reducing energy costs, to maximize mining profit.
This latter motive is every bit as important to OgNasty as the environmental challenge, and the “cool factor” of utilizing multiple new cutting-edge energy generation technologies to power his group’s segment of the Bitcoin network.
Bitcoin miners also realize profits depend on mining machines running 24/7, though, so the obvious question is: what happens to NastyFans’ operation at night?
OgNasty said he has a grandfathered agreement with the local electric company that provides him with retail-price rebates for any excess power he adds to the grid. Therefore, when the sun goes down the mining operation will draw from the regular electric grid, at no additional cost.
Can Bitcoin be environmentally sustainable and profitable at the same time? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.
Cover image courtesy of Pixabay.