There is a strong argument to be made, however, that far from plunging the globe into ecological disaster, cryptocurrency mining can be sustainable or, better yet, can be used to neutralize the carbon footprint of other energy intensive processes. Indeed, under the right circumstances, mining can produce a minimal carbon output.

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Moreover, its energy emissions can be recycled for other eco-friendly endeavors. Basically, miners — those who process transactions — run energy intensive computations on their computers to solve the cryptographic equations that are needed to find new blocks and keep the network secure.

As the network attracts more value and miners try to outcompete each other to find the next block, they will invest more energy in solving these equations. Some have argued that innovations like the Lightning Network will scale this problem out of existence, while other critics claim that a proof-of-stake, distributed consensus mechanism could prove to be more ecologically sound. Within this debate, there are those who say this process is unsustainable and needs be fixed.

Then there are others who argue that the concern is overblown and nothing needs to change. Chinese mining farms have long drawn cheap surplus energy from hydroelectric dams, especially in the Sichuan province.

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One of the oldest of these, BWfor instance, helped to pioneer the practice. Founded inthe mining operation has drawn renewable energy to power its rigs since Though its roots are in China, hydroelectric mining has found its way into other regions that offer cheap river-run energy. In Austria, the Damblon sisters at HydroMiner have looked to harness the output of hydroelectric dams in the alps for their own operation.

The team built this second farm thanks to funds from its H2o token ICO. According to the Damblons, hydroelectric energy in Austria is 85 percent cheaper than average electricity costs. They can pump energy into their mining rigs for cents per kWh, and the Austrian climate is ideal for keeping their hardware cool.

Speaking of heating up, the warmth mining rigs produce is ideal for heating a home, especially in colder climates. In the tiny Siberian town of Irkutsk, Russia, Ilya Frolov and Dmitry Tolmachyov are using the heat emitted by their mining rigs to keep their micro home warm.

The system heats up a water source connected to the mining hardware, and once warmed, the water is piped to a space heater to keep their abode nice and toasty. One company has taken this concept and run with it.