Payments firm Block Inc and blockchain company Blockstream Corpare are breaking ground on a solar- and battery-powered bitcoin mine in Texas that use solar and storage technology from Tesla.
Blockstream co-founder and CEO Adam Back told CNBC on the side-lines of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami that the mining facility is designed to be a proof of concept for 100% renewable energy bitcoin mining at scale. Tesla’s 3.8 megawatt solar PV array and 12 megawatt-hour Megapack will power the facility which will be completely off-grid.
“People like to debate about the different factors to do with bitcoin mining. We figured, let’s just prove it. Have an open dashboard so people can play along, maybe it can inform other players to participate,” Back said.
The dashboard will be publicly accessible and show real-time metrics of the project’s performance, including power output and total bitcoin mined.
“Building things is a better solution than arguing about things,” Back said, explaining that the pilot is meant to show that bitcoin mining can fund renewable energy installations and innovation.
Bitcoin mining has been under continual attack for its possible carbon footprint. Greenpeace, Environmental Working Group, and Ripple’s Chris Larsen even launched a campaign to change its fundamental model away from proof-of-work, which requires a lot of energy to run. This project can be a good solution for ongoing debates concerning the energy consumption by miners and their impact on the global environment. By the way environmental concerns related to bitcoin mining had in May last year prompted Tesla to stop accepting bitcoin for car purchases, so seems that they are going to fix it now.
“By collaborating on this full-stack, 100% solar-powered bitcoin mining project with Blockstream, using solar and storage technology from Tesla, we aim to further accelerate bitcoin’s synergy with renewables,” said Neil Jorgensen, global ESG lead at Block and project lead for Block’s Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative.
West Texas with its sun and winds is a mecca of renewable energy in the United States. But a lot of that wind and solar power is concentrated in remote parts of the state. With no financial incentive, there’s no reason to build new renewable infrastructure to collect this energy. Bitcoin miners create the demand and have assets which make renewables in Texas economically viable.
Wind turbines are shown on June 15, 2021 in Papalote, Texas. Credit: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Dorsey’s Block (then called Square) teased the deal last June when it announced it would invest $5 million in a solar-powered mine built in partnership with Blockstream. This development’s cost of $12 million will be split evenly between Blockstream and Block, and is expected to be up and running in a few months. The mine will have a relatively tiny 30 petahash/second in computing power and energy capacity of just 1 megawatt (MW).