How Irish farmers are turning cow poop into digital gold

Farmhouses, cattle pens and heavy machinery 
nestled among picturesque rolling fields.   This is a typical Irish dairy farm. But 
just next door is a different kind of farm.   All because of this mysterious metal box right 
here. Farms produce a lot of waste. And that box   Right here can turn that waste into digital gold. 
Yes, you heard it right. Let's find out more. The Irish government is targeting a 25% decrease 
in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. That's a   Pretty tall order. But one of the best ways to 
lower emissions is to invest in renewable energy   Sources. However, Ireland has a unique problem. 
Over 35% of its greenhouse gas emissions come   From the agricultural sector, and a majority 
of those emissions come from, you guessed it,   Cows. This is a serious problem because in Ireland 
there are about 1 million more cows than there are   People. There are 7.3 million cows in Ireland 
and unfortunately they create a lot of waste.   Cows like the Kerry cattle are one of the oldest 
breeds in Europe. Dairy farming is a pivotal part   Of Ireland's culture, history and economy. But 
the future of Irish farming is not so bright. Many farmers say that meeting targets 
could drive them into bankruptcy,   With the head of the Irish Creamery Milk 
Suppliers Association, Pat McCormack,   Warning that farmers could 
have to cull their livestock. If Ireland was to bring their greenhouse 
gas emissions to target right now,   They would have to cull 1.3 million 
cattle. Luckily, a group of young Irish entrepreneurs think they might have found 
a rather unusual solution: Bitcoin mining.   Nestled on the cusp of Armagh County lies 
a typical Irish farm tended to by a man who   Is perhaps ahead of his time. Tom Campbell 
is the first Irish farmer to mine Bitcoin. The amount of electricity Bitcoin 
requires is a contentious subject,   But it's coming purely from renewable 
sources here. It does sound like a   Lot like an outlandish thing to turn grass 
into Bitcoin, but there is a way to do it. Farmers are increasingly pressured by 
the Irish government to reduce emissions   To reach the country's greenhouse 
gas emission goals. In some cases,   These goals have driven farms to 
bankruptcy. For farmer Tom Campbell,   Bitcoin mining was an interesting option to 
pay off investments he was obliged to make. The Bitcoin option here for consuming electricity 
on site rather than just exporting it. It was an   Exercise in trying to beat the grid price that 
you were being paid for export and it gives us   Another market for electricity. And it's just a 
form of wealth storage, I suppose, on the farm. He produces renewable energy on his farm using 
a special method called anaerobic digestion.   Anaerobic digestion is a method where 
microorganisms break down biodegradable   Material to a point where it creates methane 
gas, which can be used to produce electricity.   It's actually quite similar to a cow digesting 
grass and farting it out into the world. But  

Instead that fart is captured and used to create 
electricity in a purely renewable way. On average,   Tom's farm produces an electrical output 
of 500kW, but can scale up to 700kW.   That's the equivalent of powering nearly 
12,000 households. If 41% of Ireland's   Farms installed anaerobic digesters, 
they could produce enough electricity   For every single home in Ireland, all by using 
environmentally-friendly and renewable biogas. We collect our crops from the 
fields during the summer months,   Put them in our silage clamps in the yard, and 
then every day we fill our feed hopper here and   That feed hopper every hour feeds a predetermined 
amount 24 hours a day, a predetermined amount down   Into our digester. The digester takes it and 
mixes it in this slurry. As we feed them in,   It digests it and produces biogas, which is 
about 52%-53% methane. We run that the methane   Through the engines that run generators 
and we export our electricity to the grid.   Anything we don't export to the 
grid, we use it for mining Bitcoin. You might be wondering why Farmer Tom doesn't 
export every kilowatt of electricity to the grid.   The answer is simple: the grid 
doesn't actually need all that energy.   But Tom can't let the excess energy he's created 
go to waste. And so, voila — Bitcoin mining.   When grid demand is low, miners step 
in to scoop up the excess clean energy.   So when the price from the grid is very low, it 
makes more sense to mine Bitcoin. When it's very,   Very high, you sell the electricity to 
the grid as renewable green electricity. Yep. You keep your coffers happy and obviously   The grid is happy that they're 
getting this green energy too. Yep, absolutely. That's it. Yeah. No brainer. I mean, yeah, 
switch it on when you can, right? Yeah, yeah. Should we switch it back on now? I think so. This particular mine is actually running 
24/7. A constant stream of biogas generates   A constant supply of energy. And because 
the digester can be fed all the time,   There's no downtime on this energy source. 
It's always up and farting. Sorry, running.   The brains behind the mining operation 
are a young team of Irish entrepreneurs   Who specialize in using stranded 
or untapped energy to mine Bitcoin. So we looked at a number of energy sources, you 
know, wind and solar were the first ones that   Appeared to us. But inevitably we realized that 
in order to get a better, higher uptime source   Of energy, we needed to delve a bit deeper. And 
we ultimately came across anaerobic digestion.  

And what we came across is that a lot of 
instances they have an export capacity of X   Amount, but they can produce more. But previously 
they had no financial incentive to do so, because   If they can only export X amount, why would they 
produce more? And so what we realized is that if   We come up with a containerized solution, we 
can basically offer them a constant off-grid   Buyer of electricity. So we're making use of 
their stranded energy and they're getting a   Buyer for their spare electricity. So it's 
a match made in heaven for both of us. Now, some of you may ask why Bitcoin?   Why not house something else like a 
data center for Amazon Web Services? You know, farmers are pretty independent 
individuals anyway, and they like to be in   Control of everything that's going on in their 
own farms. And so in this instance, this farmer   In particular has complete custody over his own 
Bitcoin. The Bitcoin is going into whatever wallet   He or she wants to use on any given week or month, 
and they're completely in control of that Bitcoin.   And so also, if they want to shut this thing off 
and do some maintenance and do whatever they want   To do, they're not asking another individual 
like AWS or whoever else to put servers into a   Unit like this. They're in control of their own 
ASICs, they're in control of their own Bitcoin. It takes approximately 2.5 months to mine one 
Bitcoin on this site, which is a lot considering   There are only 35 machines consuming purely 
excess energy. And Tom Campbell, who has a deep   Understanding of how Bitcoin works, is what's 
known in this space as a Bitcoin Maximalist. When we looked at the Bitcoin as 
opposed to which other coin to mine,   We felt Bitcoin was the purest crypto out there. 
It's not contaminated by outside influences. It's   On a network that needs a lot of consensus. 
So we thought that's the one we would opt for. Obviously this particular project is a match made 
in heaven. It's a win-win for both sides of the operation. Stewart Hosford is an economist 
and the founder of Scilling Digital Mining,   The company that runs the mining operation 
on Tom's farm. I asked him, can other   Farms do the same in Ireland and start mining 
Bitcoin too? Can they replicate this concept? Yeah, I hope so. You know, 
I hope so. There's 135,000   Farms in Ireland. You know, people talk about 
circular economy, Joe. You know, I hear this term   All the time and I'm a big fan of it, right? But 
here's a perfect example of a circular economy:   You grow cattle, they provide food, 
dairy, produce, beef, they create waste,   The waste gets harnessed, it gets turned into 
electricity, which provides energy to our grid.   Any excess energy can be used to mine Bitcoin, 
which secures a really important monetary network.   And out of the anaerobic digester comes a 
digester, which is, you know, an awesome   Fertilizer that can be then used to spread back 
on the land. This is the circular economy working. The future of Bitcoin mining in Ireland 
could be bright. Bright orange even.  

Although it's set against a backdrop of 
a European energy crisis. If the idea   Of using untapped and renewable energy 
sources to mine Bitcoin spreads across   The country and even the globe, we all 
might be looking at a brighter future.   Nonetheless, there's still a huge amount 
of criticism and a lack of understanding   Surrounding Bitcoin mining. Regulators want to ban 
Bitcoin mining's mechanism called proof-of-work,   And this cloud of uncertainty could 
remain at least for the near-term. In this case, Bitcoin mining could be the 
catalyst for the rollout of small scale anaerobic   Digestion across Ireland, which is obviously 
a positive contribution. So just focusing on,   You know, X amount of Bitcoin uses and 
not realizing that a lot of that usage   Could be a net benefit to the environment 
is quite a narrow-minded approach to have. You know, it's quite bizarre to us that a lot 
of people don't even know what we're doing in   Ireland yet. We're kind of operating under 
the radar, but people are slowly but surely   Seeing what we're doing and becoming quite 
interested, whether it be farmers themselves,   Whether it be wind and solar guys. It's just 
a case of educating people on Bitcoin mining   And showing them that it's here to stay. 
Ultimately, it's a really innovative energy   Solution that people will implement over 
the course of the next couple of years. We started thinking about it as an energy source.   Not only generating energy, but also 
generating economic value and therefore,   You know, turn it into a positive, and 
then, you know, things change, right? It's that perception, isn't it? It's that perception, right? It's that perception. As the sun sets over this 
beautiful Irish countryside,   I am hopeful about the future of Bitcoin. These guys are doing something peaceful,  Productive, yet bold. They're 
turning cow pat into digital gold.   I mean this. This! Renewable green grass. This could be the future of Bitcoin mining.


Coinbase is a popular cryptocurrency exchange. It makes it easy to buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Coinbase also has a brokerage service that makes it easy to buy Bitcoin as easily as buying stocks through an online broker. However, Coinbase can be expensive due to the fees it charges and its poor customer service.

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