Everything you need to know about bitcoin mining centres

Bitcoin mining centres explained

Bitcoin (BTC) was launched as a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash in 2009. The decentralized digital currency has quickly grown amidst rising adoption, providing an alternative to traditional fiat currencies. 

In the fiat system, banks are saddled with the responsibility of verifying transactions. But in the cryptocurrency realm, transactions are verified through a process known as consensus mechanism and the specific method depends on the underlying technology of the cryptocurrency. The two most common blockchain consensus mechanisms are Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS).

Bitcoin operates using the PoW consensus mechanism where miners utilize supercomputers to solve complex mathematical puzzles. That way, they get to validate every BTC transaction and add them to the blockchain. In return, the Bitcoin network rewards winning miners with newly created bitcoins. This concept has resulted in the setup of numerous Bitcoin mining centres around the world.

What are Bitcoin mining centres?

Bitcoin mining centres (or farms) are large-scale facilities designed to mine BTCs using a network of computers or servers. Typically, bitcoin mining involves solving complex mathematical algorithms to authenticate digital transactions and create new bitcoins. The two primary ways to mine Bitcoin are solo mining and pool mining. 

Bitcoin mining centres can use anything between 1 MW and 700 MW of energy. Some miners start by simply running one server out of their home. However, to generate more earnings one needs to expand the server network to boost the mining operation, perhaps even build a mining centre if necessary. 

Notably, bitcoin mining centres are popular in North Texas and South Carolina. Genesis Digital Assets (GDA), one of the world’s largest Bitcoin miners, has set up more than 20 big mining farms that have helped sustain over 300,000 miners online, from North America to Europe and Central Asia. 

Bitcoin mining centres and energy consumption 

Crypto mining centres require enormous amounts of computation power to mine bitcoin, and the energy usage is significant. A key factor in bitcoin mining centre design is ensuring the operational costs – contributed majorly by energy consumption – are economical or favourable. 

These mining facilities usually need between 1 megawatt to 5 megawatt to keep up with the demands of the practice and are in constant operation 24/7. 

In early 2021, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance said Bitcoin mining alone consumes an average of 143 terawatt-hours (TWh) of energy across its various mining centres annually.

Mining centres house servers that operate at very high ambient temperatures, some up to 90F, dissipating a lot of heat in the process. Given this heat dissipation comes a need for efficient cooling techniques such as immersion cooling, a cost-effective way of addressing this challenge. 

Conceptually, mechanical designers usually would have to coordinate server location and airflow movement to manage the thermal conditions in the space. The high computational power typically present in mining centres needs to be factored into their electrical design to minimize downtime and ensure reliability.

Related: Crypto Mining: How Quantum Computing Comes Into Play

Final thoughts 

Crypto mining is energy-intensive and requires significant electrical demands. With this comes environmental concerns when the carbon footprint left by the fossil fuels used in the process of mining is considered. Accordingly, some bitcoin mining centres have deployed innovative approaches and technologies to mitigate these associated environmental concerns and optimize them for high efficiency. 

Also, alternative sources of energy could be considered for mining cryptocurrencies. For instance, crypto-friendly countries such as Montenegro and El Salvador are considering the use of green bonds to sustainably fuel bitcoin mining operations. Moreover, GDA’s newest BTC centres in South Carolina are situated near clean energy sources as it hopes to prove to the world that bitcoin mining centres can be ESG-friendly.

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