A recent study estimated that mining Bitcoin consumes as much electricity as the Republic of Ireland. Hollywood actor William Shatner, who is best known as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, is now involved in efforts aimed at pushing for renewable energy use in the mining of the flagship cryptocurrency. This, he argues, is good for the environment as well as the bottom line.
As a renewable energy advocate, Shatner serves as a spokesperson for Solar Alliance, a company based in Vancouver. The Canadian firm recently acquired an abandoned warehouse in Murphysboro, Illinois where it will build a 3-megawatt solar farm. The renewable energy company will then rent out space to cryptocurrency miners once the facility becomes operational.
“As an advocate for solar energy I was intrigued by the potential for it to power cryptocurrency mining operations. They are energy intensive and utilizing solar arrays to power them makes social and economic sense,” said Shatner in a press statement .
Shatner was not always pro-Bitcoin though. Four years ago he branded (sic) ‘bit coin’ a ‘cyber snob currency’. But his views seem to have evolved as he told the Chicago Tribune recently that as much as the concept of cryptocurrencies is ‘really strange’ the idea make sense once one’s understanding deepens.
Solar Alliance’s choice of Illinois was driven in part by the state’s policies as well as incentives. According to the company’s CEO, Jason Bak, Illinois requires utility firms to purchase renewable energy. The Canadian company was also incentivized into acquiring the 165,000-foot warehouse by Murphysboro’s mayor, Will Stephens, as part of an initiative known as “Renewing the Murphysboro Community Through Green Energy Jobs”. The warehouse has been vacant for more than a decade and previously housed a label-making factory.
Solar Alliance is not alone in trying to make the mining of cryptocurrencies sustainable. Earlier in the year, for instance, Japanese power utility Kumamoto Electric Power unveiled a cryptocurrency-mining unit which will draw most of its energy from solar photovoltaic arrays. The subsidiary known as OZ Mining will build containerized mining facilities which will be ideally installed near power sources. Additionally, OZ Mining will provide cloud-based cryptocurrency mining services.
Moonlite is another example of a company pushing for the use of renewable energy in cryptocurrency mining in a bid to reduce Bitcoin’s carbon footprint. It is currently estimated that Bitcoin has a yearly carbon footprint of more than 25,000 kilotons.