Bitcoin Miner Taps Dad’s Power Plant in Virtual-Money Hunt: Tech

powerplantminer16 Apr 2014 / Bloomberg – In the five years since bitcoin was created, the hunt for them has consumed enough electricity to keep the Eiffel Tower lit for 260 years. One man’s way around the utility bills: the family power plant.

Alex Wilhelm is a bitcoin miner, one of thousands who use computers to solve complex math problems and get their hands on the digital currency. The expatriate living in Tokyo has 30 remote-controlled servers mining virtual gold in an old brick building in the Austrian countryside. His father is donating the electricity, which comes from a water-driven turbine that survived a World War II bombing raid and once powered the entire village of Tattendorf, where Wilhelm grew up.

While the operation is modest as mining farms go — this year’s yield may total no more than $12,500 — it illustrates a basic point: the race to uncover cyber cash has become so energy intensive that power bills now make it mostly unprofitable.

“Basically you’re turning electricity into money,” Wilhelm said, sitting in jeans and a red sweatshirt in front of a flat-screen monitor in his Tokyo study. “If the electricity price goes up the math stops working.”….. Read more

Photo credit: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

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