Sustainable Bitcoin mining platform Sazmining is expanding into South America with plans to leverage Paraguay’s Itaipu Dam, the startup announced Thursday.
The firm’s facility is expected to come online in September and will contain mining rigs purchased by Sazmining’s customers. The platform enables people to purchase Bitcoin mining rigs, which Sazmining maintains and powers with 100% renewable energy.
The Itaipu Dam, which is located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, was completed in 1991 and stretches nearly five miles long. Sazmining founder and CEO William Szamosszegi told Decrypt it’s an ideal location for cheap hydropower.
“A lot of the things that we look for—or that any good miner looks for—we were able to find out in Paraguay,” he said. “We’re hyper-focused on putting our philosophy out there with wanting to improve humanity's relationship with money and energy.”
Szamosszegi described the firm’s retail offering as an alternative way to acquire Bitcoin, as opposed to tapping an exchange. Participating in the mining process aligns more closely with pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision, he claimed.
Bitcoin miners and renewable energy
Miners play an essential role in keeping the Bitcoin network up and running through a process known as proof-of-work. They race to solve complex cryptographic puzzles and are rewarded with newly-minted Bitcoin for verifying transactions.
Drawing on the dam’s surplus energy, Szamosszegi said Sazmining can host mining rigs at $0.047 per kilowatt-hour—significantly cheaper than an average cost of $0.16 per kilowatt-hour in the U.S.
The firm’s facility in Paraguay represents an expansion of Sazmining’s footprint. The startup currently has a hydropower facility located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin capable of generating 1.7 megawatts.
The company’s expansion in Paraguay will have an initial capacity of up to 5 megawatts, Szamosszegi said. For comparison, Bitcoin’s network has an annualized consumption of 135 terawatt-hours, according to Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (1 terawatt is equivalent to 1,000,000 megawatts).
Bitcoin’s energy consumption
While Bitcoin’s energy consumption and impact on the environment have drawn scrutiny from critics, including lawmakers in the U.S., advocates claim that Bitcoin can provide an alternative store of value for surplus power.
Sazmining President and COO Kent Halliburton said the new facility will do just that, preventing the country’s excess power from ever being sold at a loss.
“Bitcoin mining effectively transforms what was once a loss into a profitable venture for the entire country,” Halliburton said, adding the move is an investment in “electrical infrastructure that will continue to serve Paraguay for generations.”