Cryptocurrencies are proving their resilience in 2023, once more outperforming many people’s expectations. For instance, in the first two months of the year, prices of Bitcoin and Ethereum rose by 40.8% and 36.2%, respectively. While this is good for savvy investors, these positive crypto predictions put the technology on track to burn through even greater amounts of natural resources—increasing environmental stress. As such, the further expansion of crypto calls for sustainable solutions that use electricity more effectively.
Chief among these solutions is liquid immersion cooling: a data center cooling technology that consumes substantially less electricity than conventional air cooling. Cooling accounts for a large portion of resource waste in those IT facilities mining crypto—making it a prime target for effective sustainability solutions.
Immersion cooling can also complement other sustainable crypto initiatives. For example, data centers can use renewable energy to power servers and immersion cooling systems. In addition, energy-efficient IT hardware and software have the potential to make crypto greener.
Crypto Mining Isn’t Environment-Friendly
Crypto mining is the means by which these new currencies are made and secured. The computational algorithms used in crypto mining depend on speed. This has led to an intense cycle of competition—when mining is only profitable on powerful, often overclocked processors that use far more electricity than average IT tasks. Generating popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin often requires more electricity than is consumed by entire nations.
Producing enough electricity to feed the burgeoning crypto market has multiple related environmental impacts. The fuels themselves must be extracted and processed, heavily polluting the environment. Then, the conversion of fuels into electricity and its transmission to data centers adds more emissions and waste.
The entire process of generating and using electricity also wastes sizable amounts of water and other resources. Furthermore, the hardware works under extreme conditions and wears out fast, soon becoming electronic waste, or “e-waste.”
All these environmental tolls don’t necessarily make crypto bad. People still find it valuable enough to mine. However, given the positive predictions for crypto, we are now faced with the need to implement more environmentally sustainable solutions.
Are Sustainable Solutions Possible?
Fortunately, sustainable solutions are possible for cryptocurrencies. In response to growing environmental challenges, the sector has started developing responsible approaches to resource use that won’t affect crypto’s long-term economic success.
Rather than seeing each of these sustainable solutions as a standalone offering in competition with the other, instead consider all these solutions as part of the same ecosystem. The more steps we take to make data centers green, the more powerful the overall synergy will be.
Ultimately, even with aggressive growth, the data centers enabling crypto mining can ensure that these currencies don’t come with a steep environmental price tag. It is possible to have the best of both worlds—economic and environmental sustainability.
Sustainable Solutions for Crypto Mining
Current sustainable solutions address the core concerns of resource waste: data center cooling, energy sources, IT hardware, and crypto algorithms. Each of these areas currently employs inefficient methods that add to environmental degradation. Improvements will streamline crypto mining to make it cleaner and more profitable.
Switching to Liquid Cooling
Cooling is the main consumer of data center electricity other than essential IT work. Older cooling technologies such as air-cooling use equipment that wastes vast amounts of electricity—in some cases more than the processors themselves!
Switching to liquid immersion cooling from GRC immediately eliminates 95% of the wasted cooling energy. Not only is this a sustainable solution, it also saves data centers a substantial sum of money. The immersion tanks are fast and easy to install, with none of the constraints of outdated air-cooling infrastructure.
Crypto mining pushes processors to the limits of air cooling and, in some cases, beyond. This has become one of the driving use cases for data centers to upgrade to liquid immersion. It’s the number one improvement to sustainability.
Using Renewable Energy Sources
On the other side of the equation from energy use is energy production. The more electricity a crypto facility uses, the more electricity needs to be generated. Cutting the pollution from either the sink or the source of electricity protects the environment.
Data centers often use non-renewable energy sources unquestioningly. It’s what’s fed into the power grid in many areas. Non-renewable sources include coal and diesel, both heavily polluting substances. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), coal combustion is currently responsible for 35% of the US’s mercury emissions and two-thirds of its sulfur dioxide emissions. These fuels are also unsustainable in that we have finite supplies.
Crypto mining that taps into renewable energy will conserve resources. For example, a data center can switch to solar or hydro or wind power. This can be done directly by the facility or through utilities, depending on the specific circumstances. Such a move cuts carbon emissions and other environmental hazards while keeping crypto revenues flowing.
Implementing Energy-Efficient Hardware
Energy-efficient hardware extends beyond the cooling hardware to include processors, storage devices, and other IT equipment. Just as liquid immersion improves the efficiency of cooling, custom integrated circuits for crypto mining and other technologies enhance the efficiency of computation.
Because computation and cooling are the two prime energy hogs in data centers, it makes sense to focus sustainability efforts here. Greater efficiency translates into less resource waste.
Shifting to Less Energy-Intensive Algorithms
Again, the use of efficient software complements efficient hardware. The early cryptocurrencies that gained popularity employed “proof-of-work” algorithms, which require energy-intensive computation. Though that may have worked well enough to initiate the crypto revolution, the positive forecasts for future growth indicate we’ll need significantly more sustainable methods.
Newer crypto techniques under development use alternative algorithms. These have been designed to prove the validity of transactions without the same huge calculations necessary in older systems. By switching over to more lightweight algorithms, we can reduce emissions and waste.
Deploy Sustainable Solutions for Crypto With GRC
All four of these approaches work together to build a sustainable—and profitable—crypto ecosystem. Liquid immersion cooling from GRC is the keystone on which greater data center efficiency can be built. Renewable energy can power servers and cooling with minimal impact, while energy-efficient processors and crypto algorithms further reduce waste.
Enjoy the clean, quiet operation of next-gen cooling for crypto. There are sustainable solutions that protect profits and the planet. Download our free white paper if you want to learn more about sustainable crypto mining—and contact GRC when you’re ready to go green!