The massive quantities of electricity required to mine bitcoin have sparked a debate about whether the energy used is worth the environmental consequences.

U.S. company devises method to use coal waste to power crypto

However, one firm in western Pennsylvania believes they have discovered a way to use crypto mining to help clean up their neighbourhood.

Stronghold Digital Mining (SDIG.O) generates electricity from waste left over from decades-old coal power plants, which fuels hundreds of supercomputers that mine bitcoin.

Bitcoin, the world's largest peer-to-peer digital currency, is created through a process known as mining, in which computers are required to solve complicated riddles in exchange for the virtual cash. Large amounts of electricity are used to power those machines — in fact, more electricity is consumed annually to manufacture bitcoin than is used in the entire country of Finland.

"Because the bitcoin mining network is the world's largest decentralised computer network and it consumes a lot of power, co-locating bitcoin mining with a power plant makes a lot of sense," said Greg Beard, Stronghold's CEO.

Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to generate power, can leak into groundwater and damage streams, and it includes carcinogenic heavy metals.

Stronghold gathers and treats coal ash from a local mine at a waste coal processing facility. After being sorted and crushed, the coal ash is transported to a boiler building, where it is burned to provide electricity for the company's bitcoin mining operation.

Bill Spence, co-chairman of Stronghold Digital Mining, said, "I think this is a fantastic niche for crypto."


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