Is Solar The Next Big Thing For Cryptocurrency?

With Bitcoin going big, mining has become a costly and intense exercise. It takes a lot of computing power to validate the millions of transactions that happen on a daily basis. This is why environmentalists are down on Bitcoin as a viable mainstream currency. Mining Bitcoin uses the same electrical output as the entire country of Switzerland.

If Bitcoin becomes adopted by the masses as a legitimate currency, then there will need to be even more servers working overtime to compute and complete the encryptions that are the backbone of the currency.

With climate change front and center in many concerned citizens’ minds, it stands to reason that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general would need to greenify if they stand a chance at growing.

bitcoin-servers

In this article, we will go over what the future could mean for Bitcoin as it attempts to go green and use solar energy to power itself.

Lines between price and profit

A few years ago Bitcoin was generally stable in its value around $2,000 per coin. This meant that for miners to make a profit they needed to find a cheap way to power the servers to do the computing. Once these companies have mined the cryptocurrency they usually sell it onto the open market to be traded by investors who are looking to convert cash to Bitcoin.

Luckily for them, Bitcoin servers are rather portable in the sense that miners could set up shop anywhere in the world where the cost of energy was cheap.

Now that people are more concerned about the environmental cost of this mining it was not looking good for Bitcoin as a viable currency. At the time, renewable energy was more costly than fossil fuels so it would have cut massively into the profit margin and possibly even seen some losses.

Now, Bitcoin shattered the $20,000 mark per coin and at the same time, the cost of using solar and wind power has dropped dramatically. Suddenly, it is feasible to use solar-powered Bitcoin mining.

This could allow Bitcoin to be adopted by the masses and grow as a currency and still be the responsible thing for people concerned about the environment.

It can go anywhere

There are many places all over the world from deserts to regions around the Equator that get a lot of sunlight year round. And there isn’t much of an economy in those areas which makes it an ideal location for Bitcoin mining centers.

crytpocurrency-mining

They can use solar farms to power the servers and keep costs low since there is no shortage of sunlight. The long days and cloudless skies makes the price per kW hour in those areas very cheap and can compete with fossil fuels.

Another benefit is that bringing cryptocurrency mining centers to those areas can lift the economy. There will be a lot of jobs in construction and maintenance where there was little possibility of work previously.

*This article has been contributed on behalf of Paxful. However, the information provided herein is not and is not intended to be, investment, financial, or other advice.

How Green Financing is Changing the Renewable Energy Market?

Growing interest in renewables is rapidly changing how energy projects are financed in America and around the world.

One of the biggest shifts has been an influx in outside money into the industry in the form of “green financing” — bonds, loans and other assets earmarked for renewable energy projects around the world.

The rise of the green financing market shows how investors are starting to take renewables more seriously — and it could signal a major transformation of the renewable energy market over the next few years.

Green Finance

Green Financing May Accelerate Renewable Energy Projects

Green financing is a catch-all term for investment in financial vehicles related to renewables and other green industries. Assets, bonds and funds related to renewable energy and other green investments make up the green financing market. In recent years, a robust green financing market has become widely viewed as essential to accelerating the development of new renewable energy technology projects.

Green finance is growing fast. In 2012, the sustainable debt market — including “green” and sustainable bonds and loans — was worth only around $10 billion, according to data from BloombergNEF. In 2018, just six years later, the market was worth nearly $250 billion.

Most of these gains came in the form of new green bonds (sometimes also called “climate bonds”), which are fixed-income investments designed to raise money for new renewable energy projects.

The growth of green financing represents a slow but noticeable divestment away from fossil fuels.

The pivot may also represent a change in how businesses are structured. The growing popularity of bonds as an investment vehicle may enable community co-ops rather than corporations to become a more viable business model for renewable energy providers. For example, the Westmill Solar Cooperative in the United Kingdom has raised more than £6 million ($7.94 million) through bonds offered to investors.

While coil, oil and natural gas are likely to remain a good investment in the short-term, the strength of the green financing market does seem like a signal that, over the next 10 to 20 years, non-renewables will become less and less tempting for investors compared to renewable and sustainable investments.

How Green Financing May Change Energy Around the World?

As the green finance market grows, regulators are beginning to codify what counts as a green investment.

In the EU, for example, regulators recently debated whether plastics manufactured from entirely recycled materials could count as a “sustainable” investment under European finance laws.

These new definitions and regulations may determine which industries receive major funding and which are left out of the green financing boom.

Nuclear energy, for example, is generally not regarded as renewable energy, but is sometimes considered sustainable. Nuclear power plants generate waste, but they also produce zero emissions, unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Natural gas is also not considered renewable or sustainable, as it is a fossil fuel and produces significant carbon emissions when burned for power. However, some proponents of the energy source argue that it should be considered sustainable, as it produces significantly less carbon dioxide than similar fossil fuels.

green-financing

In 2019, EU regulators reached a deadlock over whether or not nuclear and natural gas power plants should count as sustainable investments. In a final compromise, EU lawmakers ruled that both nuclear and natural gas projects were neither included nor excluded in the definition of sustainable by default. Instead, projects would need to prove that they “do no harm” on a case-by-case basis.

Similar rulings and legal challenges could shape the future of energy as governments around the world grapple with the challenge of shifting away from fossil fuels.

A Coming Sustainable Energy Revolution

The rise of the green finance market may change what alternative energy looks like around the world. Legal debates over what should count as “renewable” or “sustainable” may affect which projects receive funding, while bonds and loans may make community cooperatives that provide renewable energy more practical.

As fossil fuels become less attractive to investors and the renewable energy market grows, green financing is likely to have major impacts on the future of renewables.

Electricity Prices Drop 19% in 2 Days Due to Wind Power

Americans are spending over $100 a month on electricity, leading to many poorer people having to go without when cash is running low. Anything that can be done to reduce costs will help people to live comfortably and meet their basic electricity needs. One way to do this is by increasing the production of wind energy. Fortunately, this is exactly what is happening across the European Union and latest figures confirm this.

renewable-energy-germany

AleaSoft is a forecaster of energy production and usage. They regularly do in depth analysis into the energy sector, so that governments and businesses can determine which source of energy is most effective at lowering costs and creating a cleaner atmosphere.

Consistently, research from AleaSoft has shown that as wind power production increases, the overall price of electricity goes down. In the two days between October 7 and October 10 2019, the cost of the average electric bill fell by 19% and further analysis showed that this was as a direct result of investment in wind energy.

Change Between October 7 and October 10

There has been a general trend across the European continent suggesting a fall in prices. However, during the weekdays between Monday October 7 and Thursday October 10, the decline in costs was most significant. The average fall in the price of electricity markets was 19%, although there was significant variation between countries.

Most strikingly, Belgium was able to slash prices by 32%, cutting the cost of the average Belgian’s electricity bill by a third. Other electricity markets showed less of a price fall, such as in Spain and Germany were costs fell by just 7%. Wherever you happen to live in Europe, however, the news is hugely positive. Any drop in prices helps ordinary and low income people to power their homes without feeling restricted.

What is Driving the Fall in Price?

A fall in electricity costs can be for many reasons, so AleaSoft’s research delved into the possible causes of such a significant decline in the energy markets. The sudden drop in prices came at the same time that wind energy production has been ramped up. When wind turbine usage fell, electricity market prices increased. The correlation is so close that this is the only reasonable explanation for the fluctuations in price. 

14% of energy provided in the European Union is produced by wind farms, but 95% of new energy source investments are put towards renewables. This suggests that the overall percentage of electricity from wind will rise exponentially. The UK, Ireland, Germany, and Denmark are the main countries where wind farms are located.

Improved Maintenance Techniques

One of the reasons that European countries are so capable of building new wind farms is improved maintenance techniques. The aerial platform is the easiest way to clean and repair wind turbines, so a dedication to the aerial life has helped to provide turbines which function more efficiently. New generations of aerial lift equipment, skylifts and other aerial platforms are making it easier and cheaper to produce wind power consistently and over long periods of time.

Wind turbines have a reputation of being inefficient. Many believe that their construction is harmful to the environment and that they spend most of their lives switched off and inactive. This is no longer the case, however, and the spike in wind energy production detected by AleaSoft supports the view that maintenance is improving and so too are the capabilities of wind farms.

Even if the environment isn’t a priority, all homeowners long for cheaper electricity. This new report showing the direct link between wind power and lower costs is a great sign. It should boost investment in the technology and ensure a long term and consistent decline in energy costs, as well as a cleaner environment.

Renewables Market in MENA

MENA region has an attractive market for renewables due to abundant availability of solar and wind resources. According to a recent IRENA report, the region is anticipating renewable energy investment of $35 billion per year by 2020. Recently, the MENA region has received some of the lowest renewable energy prices awarded globally for solar PV and wind energy.

mena-renewables

Regional Developments

Among MENA countries, Morocco has emerged as a role model for the entire region. The government’s target of 2GW of solar and 2GW of wind power by 2020 is progressing smoothly with the commissioning of Nour-1 Solar project. Jordan and Egypt are also making steady progress in renewable energy sector.

As far as GCC is concerned, the UAE has also shown serious commitment to develop solar energy. The 100MW Shams CSP plant has been operational since 2014 in Abu Dhabi while 13MW Phase I of Dubai’s solar park was completed in 2013. In Saudi Arabia, the newly launched Vision 2030 document has put forward a strong regulatory and investment framework to develop Saudi clean energy sector which should catalyse renewable energy development in the country.

Renewables – A boon for MENA

Renewable energy has multiple advantages for MENA in the form of energy security, improved air quality, reduced GHG emissions, employment opportunities, apart from augmenting water and food security.

The business case for renewable energy proliferation in MENA is strengthened by plentiful availability of natural energy resources and tumbling solar PV technology costs which are leading to record low renewable power generation costs. The recent auction for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park 2 in Dubai yielded prices as low as 5.85 US cents per kWh which is one of the lowest worldwide.

Impact of Falling Costs

The falling costs will have a significant positive impact in the developing world where tens of millions of people still lack access to cheap and reliable supply of energy. Reducing costs will help MENA, especially GCC, to meet its target of steady transition towards renewable energy and thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels for power generation and seawater desalination.

The slump in renewable energy tariffs will also encourage utility companies in emerging markets to include more renewable energy in transmission and meet the targets set by respective countries. However, it should also be noted that there have been several instances where the actual renewable energy production failed to take place because of low bids.

Emerging Trends

Off-grid renewable energy technologies have tremendous potential to popularize clean energy among remote and marginalized communities across the world. Access to clean, reliable and relatively cheap energy from renewable resources, especially solar power, will usher in a new era in developing countries. Off-grid (or standalone) renewable power systems are already making a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of people across the developing world.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

Advancements in battery energy storage have pushed this particular sector into media as well as public spotlight. With big industry names like Tesla and Nissan leading from the front, energy storage technologies are expected to make great contribution in transition to green grid powered by intermittent energy sources like solar PV, CSP, wind and biomass.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) has the potential to transform seawater desalination industry, one of the largest energy consumers in the Middle East. CSP offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants, based on thermal or membrane processes. Leading CSP technology companies are already taking a keen interest in Middle East CSP market and rapid developments are expected in the coming years.

Key Hurdles to Overcome

Lack of strong regulatory framework, low renewable energy tariffs and weak off-take mechanisms are some of the issues confronting renewable energy projects in MENA. Regulatory framework in the GCC is in early stages and marred by heavy subsidy for oil and gas. The largest barrier to growth of solar sector in MENA has been the lack of renewable energy policy framework, legislations, institutional support, feed-in-tariffs and grid access.

The power sector in MENA is, by and large, dominated by state utilities which discourage entrepreneurs and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to enter the local markets. Lack of open and transparent market conditions in MENA are acting as deterrent for investors, technology companies and project developers.

Among regional countries, Jordan and Morocco have the most advanced legal infrastructure in place to support renewable energy projects, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Tips for New Entrants

MENA solar market is complex due to different electricity market structure and myriad challenges in each country. Different countries have different motivations for renewable energy. Solar companies who want to foray in MENA market must give special attention to land access, grid access, transparent licensing schemes, high-quality meteorological data, creditworthy customers, long-term off-take contracts, soiling of PV panels and related issues.