Crypto could inherit the harmful plants of the 20th century.
In the latest case of repurposing old industrial spaces for digital currencies, another bitcoin mining company has purchased a power plant to mine crypto, according to an initial report from Tech Spot.
And, one day, nearly all fossil fuel power plants could be replaced by Bitcoin mining operations.
Crypto mining is expending coal waste
Stronghold Digital Mining, based in Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, purchased the Scrubgrass power plant of Venango County of the same state. The bitcoin mining company describes itself as an "environmentally beneficial and vertically integrated Bitcoin miner," and it will use the state's waste coal to generate power for mining software positioned adjacent to the plant in shipping containers. Waste coal is what's left after primary coal mining operations, and can be especially damaging to the surrounding environment when it seeps metals like iron, aluminum, or manganese into the soil and nearby water resources.
The bitcoin mining company aims to burn waste coal, and then return the then non-contaminated land back to the state, which will be received by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The department's statistics say Stronghold has already enabled the state to reclaim more than 1,000 acres of Pennsylvania land. This is significant because the ability to burn waste before it threatens serious contamination still leaves a substantial amount of carbon dioxide from waste coal. And these kinds of emissions are becoming of mounting concern as watchdog groups examine the pollution footprint of cryptocurrency transactions and bitcoin mining.
Crypto operations are buying up 20th-century industrial spaces
Bitcoin mining uses special hardware called application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and are single-purpose devices that can only ramp up hash power to work against Bitcoin's SHA-256 algorithm. And it's happening across the country. In mid-July of this year, we reported that high crypto prices fueled substantial growth in crypto mining operations, leading owners of former industrial spaces to add their properties to the real estate market, where many buyers are increasingly interested in converting them into Bitcoin mining facilities. "We've produced enough machines now" to match the surging demand for crypto-mining facilities, said Mike Colyer, the CEO of Foundry, a financing and crypto mining consultation firm, in an initial Curbed report.
More and more defunct factories are becoming empty investments for real-estate developers who had bought many of them when manufacturing saw a sharp decline throughout the nation. "We're getting phone calls from people even in New Hampshire and Vermont, from someone who might own a paper mill that went out of business, who'll say, 'I've got a paper mill and nobody else wants to come up here, so I put in a bitcoin-mining facility?'" added Coyler.
Cheap land, industrial infrastructure, and factories that have gone defunct are high in demand, since these manufacturing spaces almost perfectly meet the needs of crypto mining. "You need to get a lot of air into the building and a lot of air out of the building, so typically you'd open up the side walls and vent it through the roof," explained Coyler in the report. But, believe it or not, this started many years ago. In 2014, Greenidge Generation, a power-producing company, purchased Lockwood Hills coal-fired power plant on Seneca Lake, New York, and transformed it into a natural gas plant. But, by July of this year, Greenidge was already using the same plant to mine Bitcoin. Today, the newly-converted facility contains a turbine on one side to power hundreds of computers supporting crypto transactions. Perhaps we won't need to worry about energy companies continuing to pollute the world with fossil fuels. Soon, all our energy facilities could be owned and dedicated to bitcoin mining. Which isn't necessarily a solution to CO2 emissions. But it's a step.