With cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin burning up as much energy as some medium-sized countries, one artist is turning the tables by mining one such currency to benefit climate change research.
Featured in a Swedish museum, the ‘Harvest’ exhibition, by Berlin-based Julian Oliver, uses a small wind turbine to produce some of the energy needed for the computer power required to mine cryptocurrency, in this case Zcash. Visitors to the museum can view a live feed from the turbine, and when the exhibition ends in November all the Zcash produced by the project will be given to organisations researching climate change.
While the rise of cryptocurrencies has driven much debate on the underlying economics, the Harvest exhibition looks to focus on the currencies’ environmental impact. Mining cryptocurrencies is extremely computing-intensive – a single Bitcoin transaction can power a typical US household for nearly a week, according to Digiconomist. Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies, consume more energy combined than Ecuador, a country of 16.4 million people.
By tapping wind gusts, Oliver is using the symptoms of climate change to raise money for its prevention. While his turbine alone may not make much of a dent, Oliver hopes hundreds of similar nodes can be set up throughout the windiest parts of the world.