Welsh farmer uses cow dung for Ethereum mining

Philip Hughes, a cow farmer from the Welsh village of Denbighshire, is using his cows’ excreta to mine the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH). Other farmers and colleagues of Hughes are said to have already shown interest as well.

Interest in cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology continues unabated. Similarly, the so-called mining of cryptocurrencies involves users providing the computing power of their computer or a special network to solve cryptographic tasks that generate new blocks in a blockchain. Cryptographic tasks serve to warrant the validity of a block in the blockchain, as they exhibit the efforts that had to be expended to solve the task and thus generate a valid block. The mining process is thus not only costly but also energy-intensive, which makes many miners think twice.

Among them is Philip Hughes, who started a trend in his region by generating the electricity needed to mine the currently second most popular cryptocurrency Ethereum through his biogas plant, which runs on manure from his cows. According to news reports from the British television network BBC, other farmers have already shown interest in this concept.

Philip Hughes swears by sustainability. He tells the BBC that both the Ethereum mining process and the power supply for his farm and the adjacent camping site are powered by the electricity produced by his biogas plant. Instrumental in this process are Hughes’ cows, which continuously excrete manure to create the necessary chemical elements needed to power the biogas plant. The decomposition of the cow dung produces the alkane methane, which is used to power the turbines. The resulting kinetic energy can then be converted into electricity.

The public discourse on the energy consumption of cryptocurrencies is spreading. As BINANCE WIKI reports, many of Hughes’ peers have already joined the sustainability trend and switched to the traditional multipurpose resource of cow dung to generate the power for their crypto-mining operations. At the same time, they are also diversifying their revenues and increase them further. Surplus electricity that is not needed for crypto-mining or to power the farms goes to the utility National Grid, which operates the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales, earning farmers around US$0.1 per kilowatt, according to BINANCE WIKI.

Hughes and his colleagues are fully in line with the trend, and their approach is in tune with the times. There is increasing public criticism that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum consume too much electricity. Even crypto advocate Elon Musk recently spoke out and began to criticise the high energy consumption after initially speaking extremely positively about digital currencies. Green alternatives to Bitcoin and co, or at least their production, are thus increasingly on the rise. Therefore, it is not too far-fetched to also speculate that Musk himself could be working on a technology that would make the mining process for cryptocurrencies that need it to produce their coins more ecologically sound. 

Of course, the question, why we even need cryptocurrencies that utilise the proof of work (POW) concept is more than relevant. Many alternatives, such as proof of stake or proof of concept, to only give the next two most famous examples, are already available. These coins and tokens are often even more decentralised and scalable than the two best known digital assets, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In any case, Farmer Hughes’ idea is making waves because rarely has it been possible to turn “shit into gold” or digital money in such a positive way. 

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