Given the numerous drawbacks, Bitcoin mining tends to stop a lot of people in their tracks. As a handful of companies and countries ironically have a monopoly on the mining of Bitcoin, can it still be cost-effective to do? What’s the economic ripple effect of Bitcoin mining?
Bitcoin Mining Contributes to the Local Economy
Dave Carlson is CEO of Giga Watt, a full-service mining solution provider based in the Pacific Northwest. Its operations employ a lot of people in the local economy, and these numbers will grow in accordance with rising demand.
He says, “We house our mining computers in structures called Giga Pods. Building the pods, installing and managing the equipment, and developing the software and systems to run operations requires local labor.”
The company has so far constructed several pods in the towns of Moses Lake and Pangborn. And they’re adding pods all the time, based on increasing demand – which means more labor and more employment. “Building the pods requires many tradespeople, including carpenters, electricians, and masons.”
The Giga Watt team itself is comprised of over 60 professionals, including engineers, facility maintenance and logistics specialists, IT support, and admin and finance staff. In addition, “there are 12 in-house software developers who have produced a unique ecosystem for buying new miners, upgrading existing miners, and for the real-time tracking of miners and their token yields,” Carlson explains.
It Uses Sustainable Energy
Bitcoin mining has received a lot of negative press due to the high amount of power required and its impact on the environment. Companies that mine Bitcoin without using renewable energy will not appeal to the wider public and therefore cannot expect to run a sustainable business. Giga Watt, however, plans to be in the game for the long haul – not only by using sustainable energy but through other means as well.
“We manufacture our own mining hardware, the Alpha Miner. We’ve been manufacturing the units since April 2017. We use some of the most powerful, yet energy-efficient graphics processing units (GPUs). The Alpha Miners are among the most efficient GPU miners in the world. Our Giga Pods take advantage of the mining hardware’s extremely high power density and avoid active cooling consumption. And we chose the location for our facilities because the region has an overabundance of green hydro-electric power,” he says.
It’s a Growing Space, but Planning for Growth Isn’t Easy
Bitcoin mining (and cryptocurrency mining in general) is a growing area. But it’s not without its challenges. Says Carlson, “One of the biggest challenges in this field is planning for growth. You need more space and electricity. Some areas do not have the physical space to support expansion. And some regions are starting to look into limiting the number of electricity miners can use. We are trying to plan for both issues.”
Giga Watt has gone about addressing these challenges pragmatically. It has a rental contract on eight acres secured for 50 years, as well as a fixed rate price for electricity for the same period. “Additionally,” Carlson says, “we have a strong relationship with the local government and the PUD (Public Utilities District). This will allow us to continue to expand our capacity to meet future demands for mining capabilities by our customers.”
What Opportunities Lie in the Future?
Bitcoin mining will eventually end, once there are no more coins left to mine. So, what opportunities could lie within this space beyond mining other cryptocurrencies?
“We see a great opportunity to deliver supercomputing solutions via blockchain,” Carlson enthuses. “Mainstream adoption of applications including machine learning, data analytics, and CGI rendering is significantly driving up processing requirements; many companies are using GPUs to accelerate workloads… There could also be other opportunities down the road where we make our compute capacity available for other application areas.”
Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin
Says Carlson, “We are living in an exciting time. Bitcoin mining is getting all the attention now. But the underlying blockchain and its distributed ledger technology have the potential to revolutionize a wide range of markets.” Indeed, blockchain tech has made it clear that Bitcoin is just its first use case, with an economic effect already being felt around the world.