EGEB: A Montana cryptocurrency miner wants to buy a huge solar farm

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • A Montana cryptocurrency miner wants to use solar to power its energy-draining business.
  • Can emission-free electric (and hydrogen) airplanes replace fossil-fuel-powered planes?
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Solar for cryptocurrency miner

Montana-based cryptocurrency miner Atlas Power wants to erect eight more buildings of servers containing thousands of Graphics Processing Units. Crypto mining is seriously energy-intensive and not environmentally friendly at all. (Iran just banned bitcoin mining until September because it’s causing blackouts and power shortages in cities.)

So Atlas Power’s owner, Kevin Washington, will apply to a Montana zoning board in June for a special use permit in order to buy a 300 megawatt, 1,600-acre solar farm on private ranch land in Butte to power his company. It’s called the Basin Creek Solar Project.

Washington said, “Now, the only barrier for data centers like this is power, and I believe green energy is the answer.”

Basin Creek would feature 700,000 solar panels on either side of the seasonal drainage, Little Basin Creek, with a 1,500-foot-wide corridor for wildlife in the middle. The $250 million project would be able to power around 40,000 homes.

The Montana Standard writes:

The project would be one of the top 10 largest solar generation facilities in the country and generate almost half the power produced by non-hydro renewable sources in Montana in 2010, according to developers.

Though the buildings themselves won’t require a change in zoning, the solar project requires a special use permit because the land’s not zoned for industrial use.

Atlas would use at most 75 megawatts of solar power annually, so Washington is in talks with utilities about where the other 225 megawatts could be used.

Clean airplanes

Can emission-free airplanes replace our current polluting airplanes? NOVA explores this question in an episode that aired this week, “Great Electric Airplane Race,” which you can watch below.

NOVA takes you for a ride in some impressive prototypes that are already in the air, from speedy single-seat planes that can take off like a helicopter but are half as noisy to  “self-flying” air taxis that are already taking passengers on test flights in Chinese cities. But if electric airplanes are ever to advance beyond small, short-haul craft, significant hurdles of battery weight, energy storage, and cooling remain to be overcome. 

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There’s also hydrogen. Groupe ADP, Airbus, Air France-KLM, and the Île-de-France Region, with the support of Choose Paris Region, launched H2 HUB AIRPORT in February. It was a call for expressions of interest to explore the opportunities offered by hydrogen and boost air transport decarbonization.

The project chose 11 winners, with the purpose of contributing to surging long-term solutions that are economically feasible. The first onsite experiments will be carried out from 2023.

Examples of some of the 11 winners include:

  • Ecodrome (France): This consortium, formed by three partners, proposes a multi-service supply station (hydrogen and electricity) on general aviation airfields that can be used, for example, by electric passenger aircraft and hybrid land vehicles. (Category: production, storage, transportation and delivery of hydrogen)
  • Hydrogen for Airport Handling (France, Germany): A consortium of six operating in the field of ground handling is designing hydrogen-powered ramp vehicles (aircraft tractor, loader, baggage tractor) (Category: diversification of use cases in airports and in aeronautics)
  • Ways2H (US): A startup that offers a patented solution for the local production of hydrogen from the reprocessing of waste, including organic and plastic waste, which is then gasified (Category: circular economy around hydrogen)

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