As a decentralised digital currency without a central bank or single administrator, Bitcoin can be sent from user to user on a peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.
Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.
Bitcoin requires mining performed by high-powered computers that solve complex computational math problems to create new Bitcoins and keep the payment network secure. These computers require constant power.
Bitcoin has been criticised for the large amount of electricity and subsequent carbon footprint used by mining.
A 2021 estimate by the University of Cambridge suggests bitcoin consumes more than 178 (TWh) of electricity annually, ranking it among the world’s largest energy consumers.
Some Bitcoin mining operations are looking to solar power to reduce mining costs and increase profit.
Once the solar panel system is paid for, the cost of mining is virtually free. Eliminating a hefty electric bill that weighs down mining operations leaves more room for profit.
Solo miners have been successfully running solar-powered systems with several dozen computer rigs. One successful solar-powered miner is planning to increase the number of computers to 1,000, providing greater mining capability at lower costs.
For miners to profit, the price of Bitcoin must remain high. Making the price of electricity more affordable helps to increase profits.
One of the world’s largest solar-powered Bitcoin operations is planned for Montana in the United States.
The Basin Creek Solar Project is to be built with 700,000 solar panels across 650 hectares. This is expected to produce 300 megawatts a year, which doubles the state’s solar capacity.
The project includes eight new buildings containing a dedicated mining farm.
The entire project, including construction and materials, costs US$800 million, with the solar project costing US$250 million.
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