Square and Blockstream to build a solar Bitcoin mining facility

Solar mining plant will aim to temper concerns of power consumption from Bitcoin mining

Bitcoin mining company Blockstream has partnered with Square to build a solar-powered Bitcoin mining facility.

Square will provide $5 million in funding for the project, which will be a proof-of-concept for larger renewable mining operations. Blockstream will provide infrastructure and expertise.

Blockstream, which also develops Bitcoin wallets and financial products, already runs a mining operation on what it says is 80% renewable energy. It began mining using its own purpose-built data centers in 2017 and now has a hydroelectric facility in Quebec, Canada and another facility in Adel, Georgia. In 2019, it launched an enterprise colocation service for Bitcoin miners.

The partnership with Square will go beyond Blockstream's existing projects to provide a reference model for renewable mining facility designs, Blockstream said in an announcement on Saturday. It vowed to make the project open and transparent by publishing regular economics reports. It will also offer a dashboard that will display real-time information on the project's power output and Bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin's proof of work-based consensus mechanism consumes vast amounts of power that increase as it becomes more popular. This has drawn criticism for its effect on the environment. 

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New York lawmakers recently proposed a law banning cryptocurrency mining operations that affected its greenhouse gas emissions targets. The seminal cryptocurrency, first launched in 2009, has suffered other setbacks of late, including signals of a major government crackdown on mining in China, which dominates the Bitcoin mining space.

In March, Blockstream also partnered with Aker, a specialist Bitcoin investment company created by Norwegian holding company Seegee, which operates in energy and construction. The two companies will work together in the Bitcoin mining space, they said.

Blockstream has a stated goal to use "orphaned" renewable resources in areas that would otherwise be problematic to transmit power from. The company has developed a satellite-based network for propagating Bitcoin blockchain information to remote areas.

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