The Russian city of Irkutsk in Siberia has seen an increased interest in cryptocurrency mining due to the region’s low energy prices. Local entrepreneurs have come up with an idea how to turn energy from bitcoin mining green.

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© Ilya Naymushin

Cryptocurrency mining requires the use of computing power and therefore a certain amount of electricity – the more you mine, the more electric power you need. In Irkutsk, electricity is very cheap, about five times less expensive than in Moscow. To date, over a thousand people are reportedly mining in the region. There is even a cafe where one can pay by cryptocurrency.

Powerful computers used for mining consume a lot of electricity, and they need to be cooled. Irkutsk entrepreneurs Ilya Frolov and Dmitry Tolmachyov started using the heat produced by computer processors to heat homes. They have connected their so-called ‘cryptofarm’ to an underfloor heating system, and the prototype has worked successfully.

“Usually mining machines are cooled by blowers; the heat is then released to the atmosphere. We consider this not rational or ecological,” Frolov told Ruptly video agency, adding “that’s why we’ve implemented a concept where the heat from computing operations is used for peaceful purposes of warming houses.”

According to Frolov, the price of electricity is a critical factor in mining, and while Irkutsk has very low tariffs, it has been dubbed Russia’s informal bitcoin mining capital.

“The profitability of computing calculation at times exceeds the cost of electricity, that’s why it is rational to use it this way,” he said.

The businessmen plan to build around 2,000 ‘cryptohouses’ (80,000 square meters) by 2020. Their total mining capacity is estimated at about 20 MW.

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