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Major South Korean City to Build Blockchain-Enabled Virtual Power Plant

South Korea’s government will spend $3.5 million to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant in the city of Busan.

South Korea’s government will spend 4 billion Korean won (KRW) (about $3.5 million) to set up a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP) in the city of Busan. The development was reported by South Korean newspaper Yonhap News Agency on Monday, Dec. 10.

Busan, South Korea’s second most populous city after Seoul, has announced that the city administration has selected a project to support an innovative energy industry in the region by building a VPP based on a citizens-shared blockchain.

The project will be reportedly represented at the national competition in 2019 hosted by the largest electric utility in South Korea, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

By its definition, a virtual power plant is a cloud-based distributed power plant that integrates the idle capacities of multiple energy resources in order to optimize power generation.

The recently announced blockchain-powered VPP project is set to aggregate such power sources as Busan area factories and public facilities of energy storage system (ESS), as well as solar power plants.

The project was reportedly proposed by the city of Busan, as well as major local companies and institutions including Pusan National University (PNU), energy management firm Nuri Telecom, Busan City Gas and real estate firm Korea Industrial Complex Corporation.

The city of Busan has already been actively developing and promoting blockchain technology, according to Korean crypto-focused news agency TokenPost.

Earlier this year, Yoo Jae-soo, the Minister of Economic Affairs in Busan and former director general for financial policy at the Financial Services Commission (FSC), reportedly held a meeting to discuss the establishment of a special zone in the city in order to build a friendly environment for the development of the blockchain and crypto industry.

In June of this year, South Korean governmental agency, Industry-SW ICT Convergence Association (WICA), also revealed plans to establish a blockchain center in Busan modeled on Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. According to the plan, the South Korean version of Zug’s Crypto Valley is set to be located at Haeundae, an affluent and touristic beachfront space in eastern Busan.

Earlier today, the country’s second-biggest commercial bank, Shinhan Bank, launched a blockchain-based initiative within the internal processes of the institution in order to reduce the number of human errors in record keeping.

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Researcher Challenges Bitcoin Mining Energy Consumption Alarmists, Says Debate ‘Oversimplified’

A clean energy expert has hit back against the common perception that high energy consumption is an “Achilles Heel” for Bitcoin (BTC), in an article published by The Conversation August 20.

Katrina Kelly, Strategy Manager at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy, says that we need to shift the debate around Bitcoin mining away from energy-intensivity and towards where that energy is produced and how it is generated:

“By talking specifically about … the consumption of energy alone..many fail to understand one of the most basic benefits of renewable energy systems. Electricity production can increase while still maintaining a minimal impact on the environment….Not all types of energy generation are equal in their impact on the environment, nor does the world uniformly rely on the same types of generation across states and markets.”

Recent research estimates that mining could account for 0.5 percent of global energy usage by 2018 – but Kelly argues that the sources, not the amount, of energy is ultimately what matters.

China –  a country that has long been a crypto mining superpower due to its cheap electricity supply – uses largely fossil-based sources, which Kelly notes is highly problematic: the country is already ratcheting up devastating levels of carbon emissions.

Iceland, on the other hand – an increasingly popular spot for BTC miners – relies on almost 100 percent renewable geothermal and hydropower energy sources. In this case, Kelly argues,  miners’ power demands are “nearly irrelevant” to the health of the environment. The US Pacific Northwest – which has abundant supplies of low-carbon energy sources – is another such case, according to Kelly.

While carbon-density and “dirty power” supplies are the crux of Kelly’s article, she also offers another perspective to contextualize the Bitcoin mining controversy: if mining consumed an estimated 30 terawatt hours in 2017, banking continues to consume an estimated 100 terawatts of power each year. “[Even] if Bitcoin technology were to mature by more than 100 times its current market size, it would still equal only 2 percent of all energy consumption.”

As a recent Cointelegraph analysis noted, some have argued that energy-intensive and profit-driven Bitcoin mining could inadvertently drive innovation to further develop clean energy sources. Google information security engineer Marc Bevand told CT that:

“Because miners are so sensitive to electricity prices, they are often a driver pushing utilities to further develop renewables which are now the cheapest source of energy…If the energy use of cryptocurrency miners continue[s] to increase, it will help decrease the costs of renewables for society at large (increased demand → increased R&D → increased capacity & higher efficiency → lower costs through economies of scale).”

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Researchers Build Blockchain Electricity Exchange They Say Cuts Waste

Researchers from one of the top universities in China say they have developed a decentralized exchange, not for crypto assets, but for unused power

A patent application filed by team from China’s Fudan University in January and revealed on Friday sets out the workings of a blockchain-based electricity exchange that assigns power sellers and buyers as nodes on the network and allows them to securely trade unused electricity without a third-party intermediary.

Using the network, nodes can broadcast requests for sales or purchases, after which smart contracts will connect matching requests, based on data such as volume and price, and then trigger transactions – a mechanism similar to that of a decentralized crypto exchange.

The effort is a response to the growing supply of renewable energy in China, especially solar power generated by households, which is often generated in excess of demand in some regions.

The researchers write:

“Households then have no other choices but to let the unused solar power go to waste because they don’t have a direct way of exchanging electricity.”

To facilitate transactions over the decentralized network, a digital currency would be used between buyers and sellers, the patent application explained.

Although it’s not clear which digital asset(s) the platform might use, the system has so far been made to built on two blockchain systems, according to the Fudan team.

“This idea can be achieved in either a public, private or a consortium blockchain. And in this case, the system has been developed on IBM’s Hyperledger platform as well as the ethereum blockchain, to make electricity tradeable and shareable within a community,” the document states.

Read the full patent application below:

Fudan University Patent Application by CoinDesk on Scribd

Solar panels image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Another US County Hits Pause on Crypto Mining Power Requests

Another county in the U.S. state of Washington has blocked new utility applications from cryptocurrency mining outfits due to concerns over spiking energy demands.

According to a local news source on Sunday, commissioners from the Franklin County Public Utility District (PUD) ordered the temporary moratorium to make time for a study on the effects of the growing density of cryptocurrency mining farms on electricity supply in the region.

Franklin PUD added that it also plans to propose a new rate structure for miners as a response to their high demands.

The decision marks Franklin  as the latest county in the state to have restricted applications from cryptocurrency miners, which have been increasingly drawn to the low electricity costs in the area, as well as a relatively cooler weather – all of which helps miners maximize their return on investment.

Early this year, both Chelan and Mason counties also issued similar freezes on new cryptocurrency mining operations.

In April, Chelan also cut off electricity to three “unauthorized” farms that local officials said posed a risk to public safety.

Elsewhere, New York State officials have already cleared the way for local utilities to charge higher rates for cryptocurrency miners from March, following debates on how the operations can bring value to local communities.

Washington power cables via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Canada’s DMG Blockchain Starts Installing 85 MW Substation for Crypto Mining Expansion

Canada-based DMG Blockchain Solutions has launched the installation of an 85-megawatt substation for crypto mining expansion, according to an official statement July 26. The DMG crypto mining operation will be implemented on an industrial scale with direct support from the local government and electricity providers.

DMG Blockchain Solutions is a multi-sector crypto and blockchain firm that manages and provides Bitcoin mining and hosting in addition to blockchain platform development.

The flagship mining facility is set to become fully operational in September 2018 with 60 megawatts available for energizing mining rigs, and will reportedly be one the largest mining facilities in North America.

Electricity

DMG Blockchain preparing the site. Source: DMG Blockchain Twitter

According to the statement, the 85-megawatt substation will be connected to the utility power grid, and will increase DMG’s hosting capability by more than 20 times.

Crypto mining facilities and electricity access will be provided for its Mining-as-a-Service (MaaS) clients, as well as for DMG’s own use. This “hybrid approach” will ostensibly allow the company to grow faster by combining the capital needs and investor returns of the traditional mining model with the low capital needs and steady revenue of the MaaS model.

Canada is has become a leader in crypto mining due to its low energy costs. According to provincial power utility Hydro Quebec, the province has an energy surplus equivalent to 100 Terawatt hours over 10 years and offers some of the lowest electricity rates in North America.

Recently, Hydro Quebec proposed a new regime that requires miners to bid for electricity, seeking to allocate up to 500 megawatts, in addition to 120 megawatts of already existing initiatives.

Earlier this month, Toronto-based Bitcoin mining company Hut 8 announced it has completed its second mining site in the country, making the company the world’s “largest publicly-traded” operator at capacity of capacity of 66.7 megawatts.

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New Power Rates Approved for Crypto Miners in Upstate New York

A municipal utility provider in New York got the green light from state regulators to create a new set of electricity rates for cryptocurrency miners.

The move by the The New York State Public Service Commission was announced Thursday, allowing the Massena Electric Department to “allow high-density load customers, such as cryptocurrency companies, to qualify for service under an individual service agreement.”

While primarily an administrative move, it’s a potentially significant development for cryptocurrency miners hoping to tap the hydroelectrical resources located in New York.

A senior official for the commission said that the decision was based on a desire to balance the need to charge “fair” rates while also attracting business to the region.

Commission chairman John Rhodes said in a statement:

“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”

The newly approved rule will allow any electricity customers with a maximum demand of electricity over 300 kilowatt-hours to qualify for service under a negotiated contract. The contracts will be reviewed by Massena’s municipal utility and must “protect existing customers from increased supply costs resulting from the new service.”

Thursday’s move wasn’t the first of its kind out of the Commission – earlier this year, the body approved a bid to levy miners with higher rates in the form of a new tariff.

The decision came in response to a petition filed by the New York Municipal Power Agency (NYMPA), which expressed concern that local residents may experience higher rates due to the higher-than-average consumption rates of miners.

Image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Montana County Delays Decision on Bitcoin Mining Suspension

A county in the U.S. state of Montana that is weighing whether it should halt new and expanded bitcoin mining initiatives now won’t make a final decision until at least August.

The Missoula County Commission held a public hearing on Thursday aimed to decide on a proposed one-year suspension of new mining initiatives, but postponed the ruling as it was decided that more information is needed to address relevant concerns, according to the Missoulian.

While supporters of bitcoin mining farms argued that such operations created jobs for local residents, others expressed concerns the noise generated by bitcoin mining may undermine local property values and that excessive energy consumption could cause hikes in electricity rates, the report states.

Following the hearing, county commissioners Jean Curtiss and Cola Rowley noted that more education and outreach would be needed before issuing the moratorium, as the committee still doesn’t fully understand “all the impacts in the future or the long game.”

The proposed suspension notably comes a year after the Montana became the first state in the U.S. to provide public funds to a bitcoin mining farm in a bid to boost employment opportunities.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the state government awarded a grant of $416,000 to Missoula County in June of last year to support a mining project called Spokane.

Like the neighboring state of Washington, Montana has been an attractive base for bitcoin mining operations due to its cold weather, which reduces the need for artificial cooling of mining rigs, and more affordable power costs, the report said.

Yet, recently, officials from two counties in Washington state – Mason and Chelan – said they have temporarily stopped taking in new applications from bitcoin mining projects due to the spiking electricity demands associated with such operations.

Electric grid image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Walmart Patent Eyes Crypto Payments for Power Supply Precision

Retail giant Walmart is exploring a way to let households manage their electricity bills using cryptocurrency – a concept it says could potentially lead to increased efficiency and lower prices.

According to a patent application filed by Walmart in December 2017 and revealed on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company is developing a system that would connect household devices and electricity providers over a public blockchain.

Walmart envisions that the system would let users prepay a capped amount of cryptocurrency to cover the expected electricity demands for specific devices.

Since the requirements would be visible on the public ledger, energy providers would be able to accurately allocate the required electricity to the household. Each transaction would also be recorded on the blockchain.

As the cycle goes on, the user’s demand and consumption history would be traceable and transparent, and could be used to make more accurate requests for supply. Further, if the actual usage of a specific device is more than is prepaid for, other devices can lend their budgeted electricity, while excess electricity would be credited to next cycle.

Walmart explained that the effort comes as a way to address a growing difference between energy provided and that actually consumed, an imbalance that leads to spiking electricity costs.

The patent filing states:

“Currently, energy providers deliver energy to locations that inefficiently use the energy, which leads to increased energy costs for consumers. The increased costs result from various appliances and devices that consume energy at higher levels than the appliance or device may actually need to function or perform certain tasks. “

The patent, though currently in review process and not yet granted, marks the retail giant’s latest effort in exploring cryptocurrency’s underlying blockchain technology for consumer use.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the company has also filed blockchain patent applications that seek to utilize blockchain to boost its digital sales, as well as track its food supply chain.

Walmart image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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New Solar-Powered Crypto Mining Outfit Blasts Off, Backed by Star Trek's Shatner

William Shatner, the former fictional Captain Kirk from Star Trek, is the spokesperson for a new solar-powered cryptocurrency mining facility, according to a press release published yesterday, June 13.

The recently acquired mining warehouse, located in Murphysboro, Illinois, covers 165,000 square feet and was purchased for a “nominal cost” by Solar Alliance Energy as part of a green energy jobs initiative for the town of Murphysboro. Solar Alliance has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a solar panel manufacturer for developing the equipment for solar-powered crypto mining operations.

Shatner, arguably now just as well known in popular culture for his role as the Priceline Pitchman as for as the captain of the USS Enterprise, referred to himself in the press release as “an advocate for solar energy,” stating:

“I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution. Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure […] The combination of solar and cryptocurrency mining facilities represents meaningful change.”

Shatner also tweeted about Solar Alliance yesterday, June 13, writing that he is partial to “green…women” — likely a reference to the green-skinned Orion cadet, Gaila, who dallied with Kirk on Star Trek — as well as “green […] money” and energy:

The facility plans to earn revenue through renting space to cryptocurrency mining tenants. Will Stevens, the mayor of Murphysboro, said in the press release that the new solar-powered crypto mining facility “is a wonderful opportunity to move Murphysboro forward toward a brighter future:”

“The combination of solar and cryptocurrency will provide opportunities for the local workforce and position our community for the future.”

Cryptocurrency mining is often condemned for using large amounts of energy and actively causing harm to the environment. The question of whether crypto mining is actually making a real impact on the environment has long been a point of contention. While some say that mining is harmful with its high use of energy, others believe that the environmental cost of mining is negligible.

Intel recently filed a patent for a Bitcoin (BTC) mining hardware accelerator that would reduce the amount of energy used in mining by reducing the space used and the power consumed by the hardware. In the beginning of June, one of Europe’s most energy-efficient data centers began testing mining of Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH) in terms of energy consumption and infrastructure cooling.

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Bitcoin ‘Dies’ for the 300th Time, Trading At $7,300

Bitcoin (BTC) has recently “died” for the 300th time, according to 99Bitcoins Bitcoin obituary list. The cryptocurrency faced its “most recent death” in the latest “obituary” provided by Forbes.

Bitcoin celebrates its 300th death anniversary following an article from Forbes published May 30. The article claims that Bitcoin’s “Achilles Heel” is the huge amount of electricity required by crypto mining operations.

According to Forbes, Bitcoin miners underestimate the risks associated with energy consumption on the global scale. The report also stresses such issues as power theft and the cost of mining equipment that is becoming more and more expensive:

“Predictably, Bitcoin miners downplay both their energy usage and the threat it poses to ordinary people, ordinary businesses and the planet that they occupy.”

At the time of the latest “death” recorded by 99Bitcoins, BTC was trading at $7,312. In December, when Bitcoin died it’s 200th death, the BTC price hit the $11,000 mark. According to 99Bitcoins stats, the major cryptocurrency “died” 62 times this year.

This year, various pundits and public figures proffered their own suggestions as to why Bitcoin is doomed to fail, including the notorious Warren Buffet statement that Bitcoin is “probably rat poison squared,”  and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s claim  that BTC has “failed” as a currency.

While Bitcoin has recently faced its 300th death and dropped in value by around 20 percent last month, several prominent figures in the tech and business worlds have made bullish statements on its future. Recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said that “only Bitcoin is pure digital gold,” reiterating the statement of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that in a decade BTC will be the “single currency” of the world and the Internet.

According to Cointelegraph’s price index, BTC is trading at $7,407 at press time, having gained around 4 percent over the past week.