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Bitcoin mining company buys Pennsylvania power plant to meet electricity needs

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Bitcoin mining company buys Pennsylvania power plant to meet electricity needs

What just happened? Crypto mining companies are continuing to find innovative solutions to power problems despite concerns regarding Bitcoin mining’s immense power requirements and ecological impacts. A holding company in Pennsylvania recently purchased the financially challenged Scrubgrass power plant. The plant currently produces enough power for 1,800 Bitcoin miners, with output increases planned to support more than 20,000 miners by 2022.

Mining the top cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum requires vast amounts of power. A single Bitcoin transaction, including the resources needed to mine the coin and to verify the transaction, can total upwards of 1,700 kilowatt hours (kWh). This ever-increasing power demand has forced large crypto mining outfits to leverage any available means to produce their power at the lowest possible cost. In some cases, this leads to mining operations literally taking power production into their own hands.

Stronghold Digital Mining in Kennerdell, Pennsylvania, has joined the ranks of those mining operations that have sought to solve their power delivery challenges themselves. Unlike those companies that leverage regional hydroelectric power or others leveraging energy credits and payments from their respective states, Stronghold recently purchased the Scrubgrass power plant in Venango County, Pennsylvania. According to Stronghold, who advertises their organization as an “environmentally beneficial and vertically integrated Bitcoin miner,” the plant will burn Pennsylvania’s waste coal to power on-site mining hardware located in shipping containers next to the plant. Waste coal is the residual material left over following coal mining operations; it can be particularly harmful to the environment by leaching metals such as aluminum, iron, and manganese into the soil and surrounding water sources.

Stronghold plans to claim and burn waste coal, then deliver the previously contaminated reclaimed land back to the state via the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Current DEP statistics claim that so far, Stronghold has helped to reclaim more than 1,000 acres of Pennsylvania land. Despite the ability to burn the waste and minimize the threat of contamination, the waste coal still produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide. These types of emissions are an ongoing concern to environmental watchdog groups monitoring Bitcoin’s energy and pollution footprint.

Unlike Ethereum mining, which utilizes traditional graphics processing units (GPUs), Bitcoin mining relies on specialized hardware known as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). While GPUs can be repurposed for anything from mining other algorithms to performing their intended rendering tasks, Bitcoin ASICs are purpose-built devices designed solely to provide the hash power required to mine against Bitcoin’s SHA-256 algorithm.

Image credit: Coal plant from Rice University, Scrubgrass plant from bitcoin.com

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Ethereum

Ethereum loses nearly a quarter of its value over the past week

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Ethereum loses nearly a quarter of its value over the past week

Why it matters: Ethereum is one of the few major cryptocurrencies that is still viable to mine using GPUs, but that’s expected to change later this year when it shifts to a proof-of-stake model. At that point, we may finally see miners abandon high-end GPUs which could help stabilize the market for gamers. But with the chip shortage and supply chain issues still looming, don’t expect to see the tide shift overnight.

The second largest cryptocurrency by market cap has lost nearly a quarter of its value over the past week.

Ethereum reached a seven-day high of $3,879 on January 4 before shedding several hundred dollars in value the following day. By Monday morning, Ethereum had dipped to around $2,939 before recovering slightly to $3,044.13 where it sits as of this writing. The high on Wednesday to the low earlier today translates to a 24.23 percent drop in value.

Ethereum reached its all-time high in early November 2021 when it topped out at $4,865.57. In just three months, the crypto has lost a hair over 37 percent of its total value.

It’s a similar story for other cryptocurrencies as well, although the losses aren’t quite as extreme. Bitcoin is down about 12 percent on the week, from a high of around $47,359 to roughly $41,515. Bitcoin Cash has lost approximately 18 percent of its value over the past several days while Litecoin is down a little over 17 percent.

Of course, this sort of ebb and flow has become par for the course in the cryptocurrency space and has resulted in plenty of big winners and losers over the years.

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Ethereum

Tesla owners reveal how they mine for Bitcoin and Ethereum with the electric car’s battery and GPU

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Tesla owners reveal how they mine for Bitcoin and Ethereum with the electric car’s battery and GPU

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English Premier League investigates clubs’ crypto connections as potential NFT platform partnership gains traction

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English Premier League investigates clubs’ crypto connections as potential NFT platform partnership gains traction

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