Kumamoto-Energy Co Ltd announced on Feb 20, 2018, that it established an affiliate company that operates a cryptocurrency mining business called OZ Mining back in November 2017. The company says that it aims to effectively use its surplus electricity by mining cryptocurrencies with the output of its solar power generation plants. Kumamoto-Energy is affiliated with TakeEnergyCorporation Co Ltd which runs “mega solar plants” in Kumamoto Prefecture.
The company explains that OZ Mining stably purchases electricity from Kumamoto-Energy at a price of ¥10-19/kWh (depending on supply area, contract and season) and sets up data center facilities (mining farms) and container-based mining rigs, which can be installed anywhere power is available, depending on customer needs. Additionally, it manufactures and sells systems with which multiple miners can cooperate.
One of the most heated attacks on cryptocurrencies is that their generation process is costly and power hungry. The crypto mining industry is said to be taking over power plants and growing exponentially until much of the electricity on earth will be used to create coins. Bitcoin mining especially, we are warned, now consumes more energy than some countries and will lead to an environmental disaster if left unchecked.
This news from Kumamoto, however, shows that in some cases cryptocurrency can facilitate a potentially greener future. Many renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal are located in remote places away from consumers. They are also uneven in their yields compared to traditional and more polluting sources. By using excess capacity when it is available to mine, the crypto economy is making remote renewable energy more affordable and profitable and thus much more likely to be tapped into.