Its detractors point out systematically: bitcoin is an energy abyss. To “undermine” the star of cryptocurrencies, that is to say to validate and secure transactions on the network (in exchange for a reward in bitcoin), you need enormous computing power. And therefore, use a lot of electricity, often from fossil fuels, especially coal as in China.
French BigBlock is not in favor of black mining. Established since 2017 in Nantes in the former premises of Alcatel, this company seeks to set up its mining farms in countries where electricity is cheap and as green as possible.
In 2019, she put her heavy luggage in Kazakhstan where the kilowatt is 0.026 euros (against 0.0812 euros in France) and where hydropower dominates. “We are in great demand”, assures Sébastien Gouspillou, boss of BigBlock.
Power producers are in fact looking to get rid of their overproduction and are increasingly turning to miners. “In France, you can resell your surplus to EDF but in many countries, there is no equivalent network,” said the manager.
A project in Saône-et-Loire
Since then, Sébastien Gouspillou regularly takes his pilgrim’s staff in search of land suitable for green energy. Result: BigBlock works in Eastern Europe but also in South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
And France? A project is in preparation in Montceau-les-Mines, in Saône-et-Loire. The community of municipalities wishes to relaunch an activity on a former site of Eolane, manufacturer of electronic equipment, which closed its doors at the end of 2020. Objective: to resell the heat produced by the mining machines to the community.
“Energy will be expensive but we can compensate for it with resale. In addition, we are in a logic of circular consumption ”, welcomes Sébastien Gouspillou, who has very big plans for the future. The French want to assemble ASICs, the famous machines used to mine, on site. “Today, everything is done in China while they source chips in Taiwan,” explains the boss.
BigBlock’s energy policy is not yet unanimous. Today, around 65% of bitcoin mining takes place in China. And this one is very carbonaceous. But according to Sébastien Gouspillou, awareness of ecological issues has progressed well.
“Many colleagues work only on surplus production. Our generation cannot be satisfied with mining dirty energy. We know that the price of hydrocarbons will continue to increase, ”said the manager of BigBlock.
Even if the competition in green mining is not yet intense, it is likely to increase. China has just ordered miners in the Xinjiang region to stop their activities. This forces them to pack up for new countries including … Kazakhstan.