Cryptocurrencies and the meteoric rise of Bitcoin, Dogecoin seems to have been soured by recent concerns about the massive energy needed for their mining. But a family of generational farmers in the UK has come up with a casual solution to the intricate, global problem. It’s the method they have adopted to mine the digital assets that is grabbing headlines, which uses a simple source of energy that the world has in abundance — “cow muck”. Yes, you heard that right! The Philip Hughes family is using powerful computers run on renewable energy generated from cow muck to mine virtual currencies.
Mining cryptocurrencies comes at a huge expense. It requires an insane amount of electricity and causes irreparable damage to the environment, a fact about which Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, too, had expressed concerns while announcing that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoins as payment. The issue of carbon footprint has been one of the cryptocurrency market’s biggest dampeners.
The Bury UK-based family hopes to change this situation through its renewable energy business that converts cow manure into energy for running computers that mine cryptocurrencies 24/7. Josh Riddett, a member of the family, had started Easy Crypto Hunter in 2017. Recently, his company reportedly took about Rs. 51.6 crore worth of bookings. Riddett also told the BBC that he has seen a surge in inquiries with other farmers calling him about the project.
In 2020, Riddett attended the European Union summit on crypto as a delegate. In a statement, he said that Musk had wiped billions off global crypto markets when he said Bitcoin mining was bad for the environment but what his company was doing couldn’t be greener, adding that his computers were capable of mining hundreds of different digital currencies.
How does it work?
The owners of the farm say a single site hosts 40 mining computers that work 24/7. They are powered by Anaerobic Digestion (AD) machines, which turn cow dung into renewable energy. Farmers who have renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, or anaerobic digestion can sell their power to the National Grid for around 4-7 pence per kWhr. However, they could earn up to ten times that if they ran a crypto mining machine, according to a report in Off Grid Energy Independence.
The firm, Easy Crypto Hunter, says it has more than 250 registered customers now, including crypto whales and high-net-worth individuals, who often own 30 to 40 mining computers.
“When we started this business four years ago, green energy wasn’t on our customers’ radar, but now it’s approximately 40 percent of our business, and growing every day. It’s a good idea for both the client and the green energy supplier, so a win-win all around,” Riddett said in a statement.
But even Riddett’s Easy Crypto Hunter wasn’t mining Bitcoin because it’s not as “energy-efficient or profitable”.
Musk had elaborated on the long-brewing environmental concerns about cryptocurrencies last month as Tesla retracted from backing Bitcoin. “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment,” he had tweeted. Bitcoin price as well as the price of Dogecoin and that of some other cryptocurrencies had suffered from the decision.
Tesla & Bitcoin pic.twitter.com/YSswJmVZhP
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2021
And Musk’s concerns are not unfounded. Mining Bitcoin requires extremely powerful, energy-hogging computers. Even Easy Crypto Hunter that takes pride in its ‘green mining’ doesn’t mine Bitcoin, and its reason is somewhat the same — it’s not “energy efficient”.