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Rural Kenya harnesses stranded potential energy to mine BTC using hydropower

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A rural village in Kenya has been using off-grid energy generated using hydropower to mine Bitcoin (BTC) and power 500 families nearby.

The news was shared by Cash App Product Lead Miles Suter, along with a video and several pictures.

How does it work?

The model belongs to Gridless Compute, a green energy initiative based in Kenya. The company primarily focuses on providing cheap and uninterrupted energy to the rural areas of Kenya.

Due to the lack of proper infrastructure, it can be up to four times more expensive to pay for electricity in a small village in Kenya than in a large city. In addition to being expensive, this energy is often interrupted.

Gridless purchases mini-grid hydropower energy generators in rural areas that the local families use to draw power from and uses the grids’ excess capacity to mine BTC.

With the revenue it generates from mining, Gridless pays for the excess energy and decreases the energy tariffs reflected on the families who depend on the mini grids’ power.

BTC mining for energy, not energy for BTC mining

Gridless’ impressive work influenced investors to chip in, even during the bear market. On Dec. 6, Gridless secured $2 million in a seed investment round which Stillmark and Block led.

Gridless’s CEO, Erik Hersman, said:

“Africa needs affordable electricity. Our work in supporting renewable energy mini grid developers fills a gap, helping developers expand faster, be more sustainable, and serve thousands of households.”

Numbers from 2020 show that over 50% of people in Africa have no access to electricity. But, simple access to uninterrupted power is also not enough to solve the energy usage problem in the region. Hersman describes the issue by saying:

“It takes a few years for households to grow from getting electricity, to buying the refrigerators, TVs, and other appliances that use up more energy.

The scale-up isn’t quick, which means that you need another buyer of that energy in the interim, or the costs to generate that power are going to be too high for that community to pay for as well, thereby slowing down the uptake even further.”

Gridless believes that it can utilize the power of BTC mining to provide access to electricity to all African citizens and help scale up the usage.

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