Visiting a Solar Powered Altcoin Mining Farm in Costa Rica

in bitcoin •  2 years ago

Yesterday I had the chance to visit the world's first (mostly) solar powered Altcoin mining farm, which is based near San José, Costa Rica. It is run by Avalon Life, the new sponsor of our educative series Captain Drakins' Bitcoin Show.

With Andreas Meyer (Avalon Life) in one of their Altcoin mining farms in Costa Rica.

I was on my way to the Bitcoin Conference in Miami anyway, so I used the opportunity to visit beautiful Costa Rica and to talk some things through with Thomas Graf and Andreas Meyer, two of the main guys of Avalon. They are both Germans who have emigrated to Costa Rica, Thomas four years ago, Andreas last year.

Energy is an important cost factor in mining, and Costa Rica offers both lots of sun hours and geothermic energy, taken from its many active volcanos. Energy taken from the grid is still needed to fill gap hours when the sun doesn't shine and geothermic energy is not enough, but electricity can be very cheap in Costa Rica, especially in off-peak hours at night. So Costa Rica was an obvious choice for mining farms mainly powered by renewable energy.

Costa Rica (Image: WikiCommons)

Thomas and Andreas drove me and some other visitors from abroad to one of their five mining farms in Costa Rica and showed us around. Well, mining farms are actually not that exciting to watch. They consist of racks of computers which produce a lot of noise and heat. 

Compared to Bitcoin mining, this farm has a relatively low hash rate and energy consumption. It is a medium sized room in a factory building, about half filled with working racks, and lots of miners stored in the back, which are still in their original packaging. Thomas told me they will be installed in the future, but only after new solar panels have been added to the factory building's roof to provide them with enough cheap electricity. 

This is something unthinkable in the Bitcoin world: if you have a miner in your hands, you would not leave it in the package, but you want it to produce coins every second of its short life span. The Bitcoin difficulty goes up so fast that today's fastest miner will be obsolete in just a few months. This seems to be different in the world of Altcoin mining, which I never cared about so far.

Avalon Life started their mining operations only last (Northern Hemisphere) summer. Their strategy is to not join the expensive arms race of Bitcoin mining, but rather mine other coins and trade them for Bitcoins. 

If you invest in a mining package with them - and they only accept Bitcoin as payment - you will be paid out in Bitcoin on a daily basis. So although Bitcoin mining is just a very small part of their activity (they have some test Bitcoin miners in their mining farm in China), Bitcoin is still the most important point of reference.

Screenshot Dash Block Explorer from January 9th, 2017.

In this short time, Avalon Life have become one of the market leaders for Dash mining, which you can see on the Dash Block Explorer. The mining farm I visited has about 200 GigaHash, about half of which is dedicated to Dash mining, the rest of it to a variety of other coins, such as Litecoin, Ether, Monero and some other coins I have never even heard of.

They are not mining Steem yet, but I think they should consider to do so. By the way, the next episode of Captain Drakins will be about mining, too.

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Awesome! I was just thinking about starting a project like this and now I see that there is a blueprint one can follow. Thanks for the post!
please upvote, reply, resteem and follow @victorvazco , thank you, you're awesome!

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Electricity in Costa Rica is mostly generated from Hydroelectric and Geothermic, and there is plenty available, I wonder how long would it take for somebody to connect one of these turbines to a mining rig.

btw. I'm very interested in sharing expanding my mining skills and experience and get to know about how to use clean energy for mining. I'm located in Heredia. Please reach me if you want to talk about this.

Wooow pretty amazing stuff here and is right next to my city I will try and visit them

Thank you for the post ,i love mining btc. I also blessed with such platform ,that have physical facilities and a great compansation plan. Hope to visit their farm in iceland soon. Its great to have miners here on steem

Guys can you stake #solarcoin too?

Great report Aaron, thank you for your content and the job you are doing to the community. See you in Magdeburg soon. :-)

Really cool!

@kus-knee (The Old Dog)

Great report. Thanks for sharing :-)

It is nice that regenerative energy is used to mine, but it is still a waste of energy.

Better to put that power into Gridcoin "mining" aka solving scientific problems in the BOINC network and getting paid for it in Gridcoin. Gridcoin itself does not need PoW for the chain.

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Hey. Thats a great Idea. We work on that right now. We will use hashpower for Protein st. Calculations soon.
We cant do it with Grid. I wrote a message to the dev team but never heard back from them.

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hm.... There so many possible points where it possibly failed...

Have you been to gridcoin.us?
Followed instructions?
Install BOINC on your crunchers. Attach to projects. Join team gridcon. (You can remotely control clients using 3rd party software from one computer - I do that with 15 Atom SoCs.)
Set up a wallet and get a few coins.
Wait for more to come in ^^

There are also regular posts about gridcoin here on steem. You can look at them.

The Dev "team" is unfortunately mostly one and a few on side-projects like http://www.gridcoinstats.eu
We try to get more programmers in it but its hard. They all want pay ;)

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ok thanks alot. Will check it right now.

Thank you for bringing progressive and positive news to our awareness. In the bottom-line-business-as-usual-goldmine-frenzy of the economic market place - it's inspiring to see the predominantly progressive mindset of the blockchain community's big players.

Solar power = decentralised power generation for a decentralised blockchain paradigm - bring it!

Nevertheless, there's still an apparent inefficiency to our current technology so long as so much surplus / un-utilised heat is generated (server / mining farms, etc.) which makes me wonder about the relative energy input in the creation of cryptocurrencies vs gold / fiat and so on... but I for one have great faith in blockchain and solar mutually and exclusively ;)

On a more detailed perspective, what is their consumption and generation of power? I assume they're going for far more efficient mining over raw hash rates, but the last estimate I saw on the amount of solar power needed to run a single mining rig that actually made a return was orders of magnitude more expensive than the mining would ever produce even with a growth at the level of bitcoin.

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You ve right. It s pretty hard to get all that done with just "Solarpower". So we use also Geothermic Tech. and Carbonizing Reactors (Pyrolysis) to produce Carbon (Thats Bio Cole we can give back to the enviroment so wen can bring back Carbonoxide in to the earth) So we create a good solution to match also the Kyoto CO2 Agreements. The "waste" in this process is heat. steam engines (Turbine`s) will create the Power. Still a good time to work on.
We hav the challange to bring all that technical solutions together. We still searching engineers :-) and Programmers . Thank you

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Better ask them yourself. I suppose they wouldn't do it, if it weren't economic.

I wish their contract prices were listed on their website

Good way to use the solar excess here too . Where im at the juice plant only pays you what it cost them to buy basically wholesale . With mining This way you dont have to feed the grid and make a premium for your excess juice you produce. Win win situation here .
Volcano power . Have never thought about it until now . I guess its like geothermal it can be harnessed to with the right tools .

I've been looking at CR for relocation. There seem to be some problems with rule of law there though. It does seem like a pretty ideal place though! I have a channel #panama_costa_rica on the official steemit.com chat site, steemit.chat if anyone interested in Panama or CR would like to chat about the places.

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Moved to CR from California 12.5 years ago. Challenges adjusting but now it's home and couldn't fathom leaving.

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I'd love to talk to you about it more then. You could easily post about your experiences on here too to help people like me. :) Welcome! Please make sure you check out my Welcome post from a week ago. It will help you get started here. Thanks for replying, a pleasure to meet you, and let me know if you have any questions!

Wow, this is incredible. I will be in Costa Rica soon. May I come by an check out the operation? It's very inspiring.

Pretty impressive, definitively makes me wanna get on the business

Tis is great, I want to visit now too!