Enterprise blockchain to play a pivotal role in creating a sustainable future

Companies are turning to enterprise blockchain-based solutions to meet environmental sustainability goals as well as business demands.

Bitcoin (BTC) is often used to criticize all blockchain-based projects. This is understandable since Bitcoin was the first project to use a blockchain, is arguably the most recognizable and is the largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

In the first half of this article, I will use Bitcoin as a proxy for all blockchain-based projects because most people associate blockchain with Bitcoin. Anything environmentally positive that can be said about Bitcoin will be doubly true for the vast majority of newer blockchain-based projects since Bitcoin uses the oldest version of blockchain technology.

Blockchain energy consumption

Bitcoin has been attacked for high energy consumption. Headlines pointing out that Bitcoin’s electricity usage is comparable to a country’s total consumption is a popular critique. Comparisons are useful, but they can have a deceptive framing effect. For example, the statistics most often cited in these attention-grabbing headlines are taken from the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance (CCAF). The same organization also points out that transmission and distribution electricity losses in the United States could power the entire Bitcoin network 2.2 times. Always-on electrical devices in America consume 12.1x more energy than the Bitcoin network.

So, the Bitcoin network uses as much electricity as a small country or far less than one sliver of America’s energy budget. Is that a lot? It depends on how you look at it.

Related: Is Bitcoin a waste of energy? Pros and cons of Bitcoin mining

Another often used critique is that Bitcoin’s electricity consumption is growing so rapidly that Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C, or consume all of the world’s energy by 2020. The latter didn’t happen. Why? First, like most network-based technologies, Bitcoin is following an adoption curve defined by the theory of diffusion of innovations — an “S curve.”

The explosive, exponential-like growth in the first half of the curve slows down considerably in the latter half. Second, large and predictable improvements in computer efficiency will continue to lower the energy cost of computing even as Bitcoin’s growth slows. Third, such predictions don’t take into account the evolving energy mixture of Bitcoin.

Blockchain energy mixture

Almost all of the energy consumed by blockchain projects come from electricity used by computers that secure the network. Bitcoin calls these “miners,” but newer blockchain projects can use much more efficient “validators.” Electricity is produced from many different sources, such as coal, natural gas and renewables like solar and hydroelectric. Those sources can create very different levels of carbon emissions, which largely determines their environmental impact. The two most prominent estimates of Bitcoin’s energy from renewables range from 39% in this report to 74% in this report. Either of these estimates is “cleaner” than America’s energy mixture, which is just 12% from renewables.

There is evidence that the public scrutiny to which Bitcoin has been subjected has most likely ensured that energy from renewables will only increase in the future.

Blockchain is worth it

Bitcoin’s energy consumption and composition are not perfect, nor is it as terrible as is often reported. What is often lost in the conversation over Bitcoin’s energy usage is whether Bitcoin’s use of energy is worthwhile. Plenty of industries require energy or produce massive amounts of waste, but most people deem the environmental costs to be worthwhile. The agricultural industry requires massive outlays of fossil fuels for fertilizers and to power field equipment, not to mention producing harmful runoff. Yet, despite the environmental negatives, we recognize the overwhelming importance of growing food. Instead of discarding agriculture, we strive to improve the environmentals of agriculture.

Related: Green Bitcoin: The impact and importance of energy use for PoW

Whether enabling the 1.7 billion unbanked to gain financial inclusion or offering an alternative to predatory international remittance services, it seems clear to me that Bitcoin is worth the energy usage. It’s even clearer that enterprise blockchain is an unmitigated public good.

Newer, alternative blockchain technology uses at least 99.95% less energy than older ones. Enterprise blockchain can use even less energy since it can be tailored for specific use cases. In addition to using significantly less energy, Enterprise blockchain is helping organizations achieve sustainability goals.

Blockchain as a key driver for renewable energy

Solar and wind are now cheaper than fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Solar and wind are now comparable to geothermal and hydroelectric. Despite solving the cost problem, renewables have several problems preventing mass adoption. Geothermal and hydroelectric are geography bound. Solar, wind and to a lesser extent, hydroelectric suffer intermittency and grid congestion. Intermittency means they are currently too unreliable. There’s no sun at night, the wind sometimes stops, and there are rainy and dry seasons. Grid congestion is similar to car traffic. Due to geographic constraints, renewables are usually built in rural areas. However, most energy is needed in dense towns and cities. Like a car in a traffic jam, the electricity is delayed getting to its destination.

There are solutions, such as building battery storage and increasing transmission capacity, but these are expensive infrastructure projects. This is where Bitcoin, and blockchain, in general, can help. Unlike Bitcoin miners and other blockchain projects can be built anywhere. They’re profitable businesses so they can essentially subsidize the building of renewable infrastructure by always using excess energy produced.

Related: No, Musk, don’t blame Bitcoin for dirty energy — The problem lies deeper

Another promising energy technology well suited to blockchain is person-to-person (P2P) electricity trading. These energy sharing schemes provide electricity suppliers and consumers with the opportunity to trade energy without the need for existing third-party intermediaries while increasing the level of renewable energy. Similar to renewable infrastructure, blockchain-based projects will incentivize the development of P2P energy grids.

Blockchain enables material procurement and provenance

Consumer demand for more ethically sourced products is steadily increasing. Companies have to prove that their product is produced in such a way that protects the environment and public health, and is made ethically. Consumers wary of greenwashing, have had to rely on information provided by companies. Blockchain-based projects are already changing this dynamic.

Everledger has created tools to increase consumer and enterprise insight into the provenance of a given object. By combining blockchain, AI and IoT, Everledger digitally streamlines compliance processes and allows companies to demonstrate the true origin of their products.

Transparency and traceability will be crucial to fostering consumer trust in food supply chains. Supermarket giant Carrefour and the world’s largest brewer AB InBev partnered with enterprise blockchain developer SettleMint to deliver a digital traceability solution that utilizes dynamic QR codes attached to a product during the packaging process.

Green financing

Green financing is the use of loans to support sustainable companies and fund the projects and investments they make. It will be crucial to close the $2.5 trillion annual SDG funding gap, which is estimated to grow bigger. A good example of green financing is the green bond (GB) market. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, $269.5 billion in GBs were issued in 2020.

Unfortunately, GBs are not without problems, such as confirming that sustainability metrics are authentic, or that funds were used to support sustainability. Blockchain can immutably store this data, thus, projects can be verified to satisfy sustainability requirements. Blockchain can help in other ways too, like tokenization.

Related: How will blockchain technology help fight climate change? Experts answer

Oi Yee Choo, chief commercial officer at iSTOX, a Singapore-based digital securities exchange, said in this interview: “Even in markets where the demand for green bonds is high because investors are motivated by ESG considerations, tokenization helps investors diversify their portfolio across different bonds because of smaller subscription sizes.”

The blockchain industry is currently far from ideal in terms of environmental sustainability. However, if it maintains its current trajectory, the blockchain industry will not only be an exemplar but an enabler of environmental sustainability.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Matthew Van Niekerk is a co-founder and the CEO of SettleMint — a low-code platform for enterprise blockchain development — and Databroker — a decentralized marketplace for data. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and also has an international MBA from Vlerick Business School in Belgium. Matthew has been working in fintech innovation since 2006.

Bitcoin Mining Company Cleanspark to Kick-Start 20 MW Immersion Cooling Initiative

cleanspark

Cleanspark, a sustainability-focused bitcoin mining company, has announced it will kick-start a 20 MW initiative in its Norcross bitcoin mining facility where miners will be cooled via immersion. The company will host more than 5,900 miners in this facility, which will be submerged into tanks of a biodegradable liquid. Cleanspark states this will help them save energy and increase the hashrate obtained from the miners.

Cleanspark to Use Immersion Cooling for New Facility

Cleanspark, a sustainability-focused bitcoin mining company, announced it will start shifting to the use of alternative, more efficient methods of cooling its miners. The company revealed the establishment of a 20 MW immersion cooling initiative in its already established Norcross bitcoin mining facility, being one of the first mining companies to implement such technology on a large scale.

The company will organize almost 6,000 miners that will be submerged in 180 tanks of liquid distributed across the whole mining facility. Cleanspark will not have to retrofit anything to install the tanks required for this, an advantage that immersion cooling presents. Each tank will hold 33 Antminer S19j Pro miners.

This move will allow the company to get better performance from the miners and at the same time save energy, reducing power consumption by 20%, according to a PR statement.

Immersion Cooling Picking Up Steam

While liquid cooling is not new in the mining industry, with some small miners managing to build their own immersion mining systems, it is just recently starting to make sense to implement this solution in mining operations working on a bigger scale. This has to do with the benefits these companies can now obtain by implementing this new technology in already existent data centers.

Cleanspark CEO Zach Bradford stated:

We are constantly seeking ways to make our operations more sustainable and productive while achieving maximum performance. Deploying an environment-friendly cooling technology that also increases the economics of our bitcoin mining operations was an obvious choice for us.

The company acquired the Norfolk data center in August, hoping for this initiative to be built before the end of the year. This is not the only project that big mining companies have announced using immersion cooling recently, either. Riot Blockchain, a Nasdaq-listed mining company, recently announced that it would cool half of the capacity of its new facility in Texas with immersion cooling, with 46K miners involved in that operation.

What do you think about Cleanspark’s move to leverage immersion cooling? Tell us in the comments section below.

FLUX, SFP and Badger DAO surge even as Bitcoin price falls to $47K

BTC price continues to soften, but new exchange listings and protocol upgrades provided a much-needed boost for FLUX, SFP and BADGER.

The year-long mantra that the crypto market would see a blow-off top in December has proven to be a dud thus far and for the last week, most cryptocurrencies have been under sell pressure and Bitcoin (BTC) is encountering difficulty in trading above $47,000. 

That said, it’s not all bad news for cryptocurrency holders on Dec. 10 because several altcoins have managed to post double-digit gains due to new exchange listings and protocol upgrades.

Top 7 coins with the highest 24-hour price change. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView shows that the biggest gainers over the past 24-hours were Flux (FLUX), SafePal (SFP) and Badger DAO (BADGER).

FLUX benefits from the “Binance bump”

Flux is a GPU mineable proof-of-work protocol aimed at creating a scalable decentralized cloud infrastructure for Web 3.0 applications.

VORTECSâ„¢ data and the NewsQuakesâ„¢ alerts from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for FLUX on Dec. 9, prior to the recent price rise.

The VORTECSâ„¢ Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historical and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

VORTECSâ„¢ Score (green) vs. FLUX price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen in the chart above, the NewsQuakeâ„¢ system put out an alert for FLUX on Dec. 9, less than an hour before the price began to spike 150% over the next day.

The announcement that helped spark the rapid price rise in FLUX was a notification that Binance would be list FLUX token on its platform. Shortly after this announcement, FLUX price rallied to a new all-time high at $4.01.

SafePal adds support for nine new networks

The SafePal project is a cryptocurrency hardware and software wallet solution for investors who hold assets on the Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Tron networks.

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView shows that after hitting a low of $1.55 on Dec. 6, the price of SFP has climbed 45.84% to hit a daily high at $2.27 on Dec. 10 as its 24-hour trading volume spiked 50% to $158 million.

SFP/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

The building strength for SFP comes as the project released an updated version of its wallet app and added support for Cardano, Nervos Network, Avalanche, Fantom, HECO Chain, Songbird, BOBA Network, Optimism and Arbitrum.

Related: Trader who called 2017 Bitcoin price crash raises concerns over ‘double top’

Badger DAO prepares to reactivate its smart contracts

Badger DAO is an open-source decentralized autonomous organization focused on building products and infrastructure that increase the utility of Bitcoin in the decentralized finance landscape.

VORTECSâ„¢ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for BADGER on Dec. 9, prior to the recent price rise.

VORTECSâ„¢ Score (green) vs. BADGER price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen in the chart above, the VORTECSâ„¢ Score for BADGER spiked into the green zone and hit a high of 75 on Dec. 9, around three hours before the price increased 48% over the day.

The positive price action for BADGER comes as the protocol tries to bounce back from a Dec. 2 exploit that resulted in the halting of the project’s smart contracts.

The overall cryptocurrency market cap now stands at $2.218 trillion and Bitcoin’s dominance rate is 40.7%.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Iceland Refuses to Power New Bitcoin Farms Amid Electricity Shortages

Iceland Refuses to Power New Bitcoin Farms Amid Electricity Shortages

Cryptocurrency mining is among several energy-intensive industries hurt by a power deficit in Iceland. The country’s main utility is now rejecting requests to connect new coin minting facilities to the grid, after cutting supply to aluminum smelters and fish factories.

Iceland Turns Away New Crypto Miners to Deal With Lack of Energy

Iceland’s largest utility, Landsvirkjun, has been forced to limit energy supplies to power-hungry industrial customers including aluminum producers and fish processing plants. The restrictions have been applied to consumers with curtailable short-term contracts as well. Data centers mining digital currencies are among the affected enterprises and the company has been turning away new bitcoin miners.

Landsvirkjun explained the need for the reduction citing a malfunction at a power station and the low water reservoir levels, Bloomberg reported. The supplier also faced a delay in sourcing electricity from an external producer. The utility announced on Tuesday that the cuts were effective immediately.

Unusually high demand for electricity has been another key factor for the deficit, noted Tinna Traustadottir, executive vice president of sales and customer service at Landsvirkjun. Iceland’s giant smelters have been a major consumer for decades but a growing number of cryptocurrency miners, attracted by the island nation’s cheap energy, are now playing a role, too.

Crypto mining companies such as the Canadian Hive Blockchain Technologies and the Hong Kong-listed Genesis Mining and Bitfury Holding are among those that are already operating coin minting facilities in the country. Landsvirkjun said, however, that it’s now rejecting requests from new customers in the mining sector.

The company further elaborated that due to limitations of Iceland’s distribution system, it cannot serve load points from the country’s biggest power station, Karahnjukavirkjun. The plant is located in the eastern part of the country while the island’s western region is mainly the one experiencing deficits.

News of Iceland’s troubles with electricity shortages comes after two other Nordic nations, Sweden and Norway, voiced concerns about the rising energy needs and growing environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining. In November, Swedish regulators called for an EU-wide ban on crypto mining. A couple of weeks later, the Norwegian government indicated it may support Sweden’s proposal.

Do you think Iceland will lift the restrictions for new crypto mining farms once it deals with its current power deficit? Tell us in the comments section below.

Foundry Launches Bitcoin Mining Machine Marketplace, US Pool Becomes the World’s Largest Miner

Foundry Launches Bitcoin Mining Machine Marketplace, US Pool Becomes the World's Largest Miner

The firm Foundry Digital announced on Wednesday that the business has launched a bitcoin mining rig marketplace called Foundryx. According to Foundry, the company has access to more than 40,000 mining machines that are ready for resale. In addition to the marketplace launch, the company’s mining operation, Foundry USA, has become the world’s largest bitcoin miner in terms of hashrate.

Mining Pool Foundry USA Becomes Top Bitcoin Miner, Firm Reveals New Mining Machine Marketplace With Access to 40,000 ASICs

At the end of August 2020, Digital Currency Group (DCG) revealed that it pledged $100 million to a cryptocurrency mining firm called Foundry. The company was quietly founded in 2019 and ever since the firm’s inception, it has made significant headway in the bitcoin mining industry.

Foundry Launches Bitcoin Mining Machine Marketplace, US Pool Becomes the World's Largest Miner

As a subsidiary of DCG, Foundry provides machines, capital, consulting, and intelligence to digital assets miners. The company also operates a mining pool called Foundry USA, which is the largest bitcoin mining pool on December 8, 2021, with 16.5% of the global hashrate or 29.83 exahash per second (EH/s) of hashpower.

During the last couple of month’s Foundry USA has been a top pool, consistently commanding a position in the top five mining pools globally. On the same day it commands the largest fraction of SHA256 hashpower worldwide, Foundry announced the launch of a bitcoin mining rig market called Foundryx.

Foundry Launches Bitcoin Mining Machine Marketplace, US Pool Becomes the World's Largest Miner

The marketplace matches buyers and sellers of bitcoin mining machines and customers gain access to the company’s inventory and pricing. The company details that it has secured more than 40,000 machines from Microbt and Bitmain that can be delivered in 2022.

Foundry also says that Foundryx customers can also leverage the company’s enterprise-grade products including services like financing, shipping, logistics, and pooled mining via the company’s mining pool Foundry USA.

Foundry Aims to Provide a Reliable U.S.-Based Secondary Market for Mining Machines

As things like the semiconductor chip shortages and supply chain problems plague the industry, Foundry details that the company aims to make the process of acquiring miners easier. Furthermore, some resellers require hefty deposits in order to purchase quality machines.

“Foundry solves these problems by providing buyers and sellers with a trusted and reliable U.S.-based secondary market for mining machines,” the company’s announcement explains.

“With the industry’s leading clients and partners, from machine manufacturers to mining companies, we have the market knowledge and data to match the right buyers and sellers, at the right price,” Jeff Burkey, VP of Foundry’s business development department said during the announcement.

Foundry’s marketplace follows the company launching a range of services for 20 crypto staking networks. The company has also partnered with a slew of bitcoin mining operations this year including firms like Greenidge Generation Holdings, Bitfams, Hut8, Cleanspark, Core Scientific, Compute North, Bit Digital, Bitdeer, and Hive.

What do you think about Foundry launching a bitcoin mining rig marketplace called Foundryx? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Cryptocurrency Exchange Huobi Global to Leave China This Month

Cryptocurrency Exchange Huobi Global to Leave China This Month

Digital asset exchange Huobi Global has revealed its intention to exit the Chinese Market. The crypto trading platform with Chinese roots said it will stop processing transactions for existing users on the mainland by the end of the year.

Huobi Global Halts Services in the People’s Republic

Crypto exchange Huobi Global is going to discontinue services for users based in mainland China this month. In a statement quoted by the English-language Chinese TV channel CGTN, the company announced on Sunday that starting from 11:00 a.m. Beijing time on Dec. 14, users in the People’s Republic will not be allowed to purchase cryptocurrencies.

Huobi Global further detailed it will cease crypto exchange operations on the following day, Dec. 15, and terminate all crypto asset trading by 12:00 p.m. on Dec. 31. However, traders will still be able to log into their accounts and apply for the withdrawal of remaining assets within the next one to two years, emphasized the platform, which has not accepted new customers from China since September.

The report notes that several cryptocurrency exchanges are preparing to pull out of the Chinese market by the end of 2021. Their moves come after Beijing’s decision this year to reiterate restrictions on cryptocurrency transactions which was followed by a crackdown on trading and mining. Besides Huobi Global, the list includes other major platforms such as Binance and Kucoin.

The state-run CGTN remarks that China has been stepping up efforts to limit the crypto market amid what it calls a global cryptocurrency crackdown. “Concerns grow that the highly volatile digital currencies could undermine the stability of financial and monetary systems, increase systemic risk, promote financial crime and hurt investors,” the news service adds.

The People’s Republic banned crypto-related activities back in 2017 and while the government went after coin trading and token sales, authorities did not interfere with mining until this spring. In May, the State Council, the cabinet of ministers in Beijing, decided to clamp down on the crypto industry following President Xi Jinping’s pledge for the country to achieve carbon neutrality in the next four decades.

Leading mining hardware producer Bitmain provided another example of a major crypto company exiting the Chinese market. In October, the Beijing-based manufacturer announced it will no longer ship its products to the mainland, explaining the move was in response to local regulations. As is the case with other businesses, Bitmain stressed the decision does not concern its operations in the special administrative region of Hong Kong and neighboring Taiwan.

Do you expect more crypto companies to pull out of the market in mainland China? Tell us in the comments section below.

Delaying the Ice Age — Ethereum Network Participants Prep for Upcoming Arrow Glacier Upgrade

Delaying the Ice Age — Ethereum Network Participants Prep for Upcoming Arrow Glacier Upgrade

The Ethereum network will be undergoing a scheduled upgrade soon called “Arrow Glacier,” a change that aims to mimic the “Muir Glacier” upgrade. Essentially, Ethereum’s Arrow Glacier changes the parameters of the network’s Difficulty Bomb delay to June 2022. This will give the Ethereum network another six months until it leads to the “Ice Age” proof-of-stake (PoS) transition.

Arrow Glacier Aims to Postpone Ethereum’s Ice Age

At Ethereum block height 13,773,000 the network will implement the Arrow Glacier upgrade which aims to postpone Ethereum’s Difficulty Bomb. The bomb mechanism has been around since 2015 and makes the network’s mining difficulty increase over time. The end result will lead to the Ice Age, a moment in time when the blockchain stops proof-of-work (PoW) block production and the chain is 100% reliant on proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus.

The Difficulty Bomb was supposed to happen 4,000,000 blocks or 611 days after the Muir Glacier network upgrade. However, Arrow Glacier will push the bomb back further to June 2022. This will give ethereum PoW miners another six months to continue mining the Ethereum blockchain until the June 2022 change. Once the Difficulty Bomb does happen the mining difficulty will make it so PoW miners get phased out because it will be too difficult.

Arrow Glacier is expected to happen between now and Wednesday, December 8, 2021. “The Arrow Glacier network upgrade, similarly to Muir Glacier, changes the parameters of the Ice Age/Difficulty Bomb, pushing it back several months,” Ethereum developers expain. “This has also been done in the Byzantium, Constantinople and London network upgrades. No other changes are introduced as part of Arrow Glacier.” The announcement adds:

The Difficulty Bomb only affects proof-of-work networks, and hence only exists on the Ethereum mainnet and the Ropsten test network. With the recent progress towards Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake, it was decided to only delay the bomb on mainnet for now and to try and run the proof-of-stake transition on Ropsten before the bomb goes off on that network.

Ethereum Hashrate Taps All-Time High, Ether Is the Second-Most Profitable Coin to Mine in 2021

While Ethereum network participants have been waiting a long time for the Ice Age PoS transition, ethereum miners have been enjoying the PoW incentives. During the early morning hours of December 7, Ethereum’s hashrate reached 1 petahash per second (PH/s). The recorded metric is the highest the hashrate has ever been and currently Ethereum’s processing power is coasting along at 900 terahash per second (TH/s).

Additionally, besides kadena (KDA) mining, ethereum (ETH) mining is currently the second-most profitable cryptocurrency to mine today. At $0.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and today’s ether exchange rates, a 1,500 megahash per second (MH/s) machine can get around $91 per day. Mining ethereum with the most profitable ether mining rig is 68.85% more profitable than mining bitcoin (BTC) with today’s best performing SHA256 bitcoin miner which gets a touch over $28 per day in profits.

What do you think about the upcoming Arrow Glacier upgrade? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.