Jack Dorsey backed start-up taps into geothermal, hydro and solar power to run bitcoin mines across Africa

I’m here to Bitcoin mine about 2 1/2 hours outside of Nairobi at Lake Naivasha. This is one of six sites run by Gridlis, a company that operates in Kenya, Malawi and Zambia. Now the site behind me runs on geothermal and solar power, but Gridlis also has other mines that run on hydropower. What they all have in common is that they’re helping to both secure and decentralize the Bitcoin network. Decentralization is actually one of Bitcoins core features because it means that the network can’t be shut down by other people, including governments. I spoke with Eric Hersman, a Nairobi based miner who runs Gridless. We’re here in rural Kenya on the edges of Lake Naivasha where we put in one of our 500 kilowatt mining containers that uses the stranded wasted energy from power site. It’s a geothermal power site. That means it uses steam from the ground and we also have some solar that’s attached to the same site. Gridless is helping to solve a few big problems. 43% of Africa’s population, or roughly 600 million people, lack access to electricity. Meanwhile, Africa is a renewable energy Mecca. There’s an estimated 10 terawatts of solar capacity, 350 gigawatts of hydro, and another 110 gigawatts of wind. Now, some of this renewable energy is being harnessed already, but a lot of it isn’t because it’s expensive to build the kind of specialized infrastructure necessary to capture it. Even though Africa boasts 60% of the best solar resources globally, the continent only has 1% installed solar PV capacity. Enter Bitcoin miners. Mining for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency is a process known as proof of work. Miners around the world run high-powered computers that collectively validate transactions and simultaneously create new tokens. The process requires a lot of electricity and because this is the only variable cost in a low margin industry, miners tend to seek out the world’s lowest cost sources of power. As often happens, you’ll have an overage of power during the day and then or even at night and there’s nobody to soak that power up. So what we do is we have this, you know, 500 kilowatt mining container right here and we take up whatever is extra throughout the day. So with any within any second or minute, we’re going up and down on certain number of miners that are running and you know, might be down to 50 kilowatts and then up to 300 kilowatts and then down to 2200 kilowatts and then up to, you know, another level. And that’ll happen all day and all night. Now Bitcoin gets a bad rap for the amount of energy it consumes, but it can also help to unlock these trap renewable sources of energy. Bitcoin miners are essentially energy buyers and when they Co locate with renewables it creates a financial incentive for build out and improves the core economics of renewable power production. The IEA says that in rural areas where over 80% of the electricity deprived live, mini grids and stand alone systems, mostly solar based are the most viable solutions. Additional demand of Bitcoin miners on the semi stranded assets is making renewables in Africa economically viable. It’s pretty much a win win for all involved. And when people think about Bitcoin, they’re typically thinking about the Bitcoin that you that you get and save or spend, right? And that is Bitcoin. But there’s two layers to Bitcoin. The other layer underneath it is this network the of Bitcoin miners around the world who are securing it and making it a very viable currency that you can always trust to be the right amount. The power supplier benefits from selling energy that previously been discarded. The energy plants will sometimes lower cost for the end users and Bitcoin miners get to mine. At one of the gridless pilot sites in Kenya, for example, the hydro plant dropped the price of power from $0.35 per kWh to $0.25. The build out of capacity is also electrifying households. Gridlis says they’ve already seen this translate to containerized cold storage for local farmers, battery charging stations for electric motorcycles, and public Wi-Fi points. It’s not really sexy. You know, it’s a, it’s a mining container made from a shipping container. It’s got a bunch of dumb machines sitting in it running the same equation over and over and over again. And but it’s actually what secures the network. And the beautiful thing about the way Bitcoin was designed is this lower layer, this infrastructure layer is actually what makes the layer that everybody spends work so well. And it’s what secures it and makes it a viable cryptocurrency, an actual currency, rather than one of the centralized currencies that you see with Ethereum or Solana or Cardano, which are very interesting tech platforms, but they’re not. They don’t make good money. The entire objective is really to empower these villages. And Bitcoin is just a means to that end. I’m Mackenzie Sagalos, reporting from Lake Naivasha in Kenya.

OTHER NEWS

9 minutes ago

IPL 2024 Impact XI of the season: Travis Head-Sunil Narine as openers, Virat Kohli at 3, Bumrah and Starc with new ball

9 minutes ago

10 Thrilling Mystery Novels to Read on the Beach This Summer

9 minutes ago

No, you can’t smell fentanyl

11 minutes ago

Live updates: Powerful storms tear through Houston area again

11 minutes ago

Albert Ruddy, Oscar-winning producer of 'The Godfather' and 'Million Dollar Baby,' dies at 94

11 minutes ago

Timeline shows when showers, storms could impact Chicago area

11 minutes ago

HubSpot shares jump on talks of potential Google deal

12 minutes ago

What is Manhattanhenge and when can you see it?

12 minutes ago

Bengals' Taylor not worried by Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase absences

12 minutes ago

Dan Evans exits French Open as his frustrating run of losses continues

12 minutes ago

Can Keir Starmer really be called a socialist?

12 minutes ago

Credit card spending the leading reason why 78% of Americans have debt regret: survey

12 minutes ago

Robert De Niro criticizes Donald Trump outside the courthouse in New York: ‘He will never leave’

12 minutes ago

Kyiv says talks on France sending military instructors to Ukraine are ongoing

12 minutes ago

How Often to Water Your Tomatoes—and the Best Way to Do It

12 minutes ago

NBA prospect Devin Carter discusses the influence of his father, a former player and coach

12 minutes ago

Democrats Change Convention to Help Joe Biden

12 minutes ago

"Full panic mode": Experts say Trump mad he's "finally being treated like any other defendant"

12 minutes ago

BGT's Ravi's Dream star opens up on battling brain tumour - and what got him through his diagnosis

12 minutes ago

Trump demanded $25m campaign donation to have lunch with businessman

12 minutes ago

‘Eddie doesn’t have a clue about hurling’ – Former Ireland rugby coach O’Sullivan and Galway County Board criticised after exit

12 minutes ago

Liverpool Transfer News Today: Ederson bid, Robinson 'would leave', Ouedraogo update

12 minutes ago

Neo-Nazi makes it through to second round of German regional election

12 minutes ago

Trump defense trashes trial star witness Michael Cohen in closing arguments: ‘The GLOAT. Greatest liar of all time’

12 minutes ago

Donald Trump Could Face Another Lawsuit

12 minutes ago

Biden campaign edges in on Trump trial media frenzy with De Niro outside court

12 minutes ago

Meghan Markle would have a new royal title - even if she was no longer Duchess if Sussex

12 minutes ago

Obama Calls Bill Walton One Of The Greats Of All Time As Tributes Pour In For NBA Legend

12 minutes ago

Biden campaign dispatching two ex-Capitol police officers to Arizona to warn about Trump

12 minutes ago

Zelensky secures further promise of military aid as he continues EU tour

12 minutes ago

EDD Says It Is “Not Taking Action To Ban” Loan Out Corporations In California After Hollywood Guilds Sound Alarm

12 minutes ago

‘Blue Sun Palace’ Review: Critics Week Award Winner Tells Story Of Grief And Rebirth In New York Chinese Community – Cannes Film Festival

12 minutes ago

Unruly passenger on B.C. flight forces plane to turn back

12 minutes ago

Titan sub 2.0? Billionaire plans to take US$20M sub to Titanic wreck

12 minutes ago

Taco Bell returns to Regina, making it Saskatchewan’s 3rd franchise

17 minutes ago

Renderings show what new concourse at O'Hare Airport could look like

17 minutes ago

The internet can't get enough of this baby's grumpy faces: See all the pics

19 minutes ago

People who don't eat these three foods are prone to aggressive and violent outbursts, study claims

19 minutes ago

Former NYC mayoral candidate accused of punching TikToker Halley Kate is allowed to represent himself in court despite new assault accusations

19 minutes ago

TIME FOR A RANGERS REVOLUTION! Clement must hit the ground running with a reshaped team next season or face the guillotine like predecessors Beale and Van Bronckhorst