Envion is a project I am excited about, and I think it is worth investing some time and energy to research the project yourself. First, let's take a look at some of the current problems that it has the potential to solve.
Cryptoassets like Bitcoin have many check-marks on the positive PRO side of their cost-benefit list. For example, distributed Proof-of-work (PoW) cryptoassets solve many of the problems facing traditional fiat money systems. However, PoW cryptoassets also exhibit several negative CONS:
Extreme Energy Demand
The electrical energy required to support PoW cryptosystems is astonishing. For example, the average Bitcoin transaction demands 200.0 kWh, and Ethereum uses 37.0 kWh. In contrast, a transaction on the Visa network uses 0.01 kWh. Andreas Antonopoulos makes a good case that burning this energy is worth it -- for example, see this post by @bluebrain -- but when one bitcoin transaction could power your house for a week you have to wonder if we are properly accounting for the impact of our personal choices on all economic/ecologic externalities.
Extreme Concentration of Decision-Making Power
This is power of a different sort. Because of the profitability of the PoW mining that supports cryptoassets like Bitcoin, decision-making power about how the network operates -- which transactions to include in the blockchain, or whether a hard fork should happen and when -- is concentrated in the hands of a small number of mining pools. This becomes an issue of self-determination and the sources of authority. If you own Bitcoin, are you actively voting on whether there should be (yet another) disruptive hard fork -- or are you passively waiting to find out what will happen to your store of value when programmers half your age release untested code into the wild?
Extreme Risk Due to Localization of Mining
Localization here take at least two forms. First, when the majority of PoW mining for cryptoassets is concentrated with a handful of nation-states, the risk of interference with the network by the government of that nation-state is greatly increased. For example, right now Chinese mining pools control about 81% of the network hash rate. What happens when government policy shifts and regulators turn off power and internet access to those mining farms? Second, even if massive mining farms are widely distributed across many different nation states, they remain more vulnerable to attack (bombs from terrorists or nation-states at war) than systems where each and every user supports the mechanism of consensus on their local computational machine.
"When cryptomining was still in its infancy, it was well distributed among a couple of thousand private miners, governed by transparent rules and not harmful to the climate because its energy requirements were microscopic. All that has changed: the exponential growth of cryptocurrencies has led to a dramatic increase in the sector’s energy consumption and a concentration of mining activities in countries with low social and environmental standards - where electricity is produced using predominantly fossil fuels. Even worse, the concentration of mining power in the hands of a couple of large corporations is distorting the formerly democratic decision-making process in these networks: changes in protocols and hard forks are in danger of being influenced by the economic interests of a few."
Envion's solution to this problem is a scaleable, automatic system that uses renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. Mining rigs are packed into mobile, modular shipping containers that can be operated remotely and in extreme environments. Power is provided by renewable energy sources such as solar or wind farms. Solar power in particular makes sense given the massive drop in price over the last 5 years. Bloomberg reports that "Chile awarded contracts for a total of 12,430 gigawatt-hours a year at the August auction, at an average price of $47.59 a megawatt-hour. That was 40 percent cheaper than the prior event in 2015." Abu Dhabi set a new record in September 2016 with an auction price of $24.20 per megawatt-hour.
So renewable solar power is inexpensive and getting even cheaper, which is great. But more importantly, solar farms experience unwanted overcapacity at predictable times during the day when the midday sun is on "full blast." The unwanted overcapacity can be used for free to run Envion's modular and scaleable containerized mining rigs. Doing so provides a service for the power generator, becoming a stabilizing element of the power generation pipeline.
Finally, the project is tokenized such that the EVN securities token provides a dividend from profits and provides voting and veto power over strategic directions. For this reason it falls under US Security Act Regulation D Rule 506 (4), and US citizens are not permitted to invest (land of the free, right?). Structuring this project via an income-bearing token that grants voting rights is a major advance in my opinion, taking back part of the decision power that has become highly concentrated in the hands of a few groups and mining pools. Furthermore, tokenization reduces the bar to entry often seen in fiat investments, with high minimum amounts for investing and long periods of locked funds.
Check it out and let me know what you think!