DAKHLA, Morocco – Soluna, a blockchain company, is building a 37,000-acre wind farm in
Construction will start in 2019 and is scheduled to be completed in five years, Soluna CEO John Belizaire told Reuters in a recent interview. Completion of the facility will reportedly cost $1.4 billion to $2.5 billion. The wind farm may also connect to Morocco’s national grid.
Morocco has attracted investment in solar and wind power as part of a goal to generate 52 percent of its electricity from renewable energies. Soluna told the Moroccan government it would invest $100 million in an initial phase, from which it hoped to generate 36 megawatts.
Blockchain computer centers require vast amounts of electricity to crunch the numbers, but Belizaire told Reuters that Soluna wouldn’t trade cryptocurrency in Morocco due to local officials’ warnings about using the currency. Instead, it will support blockchain networks by offering calculation capacities to foreign companies in exchange for foreign currency.
Soluna is a portfolio company of Brookstone Partners, a New York-based private equity company, which may also look to large institutional investors in the future to help bankroll the desert wind farm project.
Bitcoin is mined by using your computer to help process the uncrackable digital transaction records that underpin the currency. This process requires enormous computing capacity and electricity, produced by large machines in aircraft hangar-sized warehouses in the cooler climates of Iceland, Canada, northern China, and Russia, where it costs less to disperse the heat generated.
Digiconomist, a cryptocurrency analysis platform, estimated in June that bitcoin mining used approximately 71 terawatt-hours per year – equivalent to almost 10 percent of China’s annual energy usage.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975, and since then the territory has been the subject of a dispute between it and the Polisario Front, an independence movement backed by neighboring Algeria.
Soluna was founded in 2018 with the mission to power the blockchain-economy with clean, low-cost renewable energy through the world’s first vertically-integrated blockchain computing company that owns and controls dedicated renewable energy resources.
Soluna’s approach is to combine a utility-scale, renewable power plants operating on a wind farm in Morocco, with high capacity computing facilities to support and foster next-generation breakthroughs in the blockchain.
Though wholesale energy is a focus of many companies, a “Blockchain in Energy, 2018” study reports that 59 percent of blockchain energy projects focus on building a peer-to-peer grid network. The concept is to facilitate a distributed network of individuals and entities who trade and buy excess energy between one another, without a controlling or centralizing authority. As more and more countries reach energy parity — where the cost of renewable energy becomes equal to or lower than traditional retail energy — individuals who produce their at home will have the ability to trade it to their neighbors and peers.