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Is Zero Electricity Cost Cryptocurrency Mining Possible? Solar Power Bank on Single Board Computers

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Bitcoin reaches $10000 per coins again, other cryptocurrency coins' value also drastically increases, and so will the desire for mining. Mining costs huge amount of electricity which is why renewable energy must be considered. The authors assembled a miniature solar powered miner for education and investigation whether profitability can be made. The module is the combination of solar panel, USB power bank, and USB powered computer devices which are usually smartphones and single board computers. Since the materials are affordable and easy to buy, it can be assembled by anyone which is very suitable for education and trials. This article contains a mixed short discussion of economics, education, environments, and innovative technologies.
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Is Zero Electricity Cost Cryptocurrency Mining Possible?
Solar Power Bank on Single Board Computers
(Research Session)
Fajar Purnama*, Irwansyah, Muhammad Bagus Andra, and Tsuyoshi Usagawa
Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kumamoto University
Abstract- Bitcoin reaches $10000 per coins again, other
cryptocurrency coins’ value also drastically increases, and so will the
desire for mining. Mining costs huge amount of electricity which is
why renewable energy must be considered. The authors assembled a
miniature solar powered miner for education and investigation
whether profitability can be made. The module is the combination of
solar panel, USB power bank, and USB powered computer devices
which are usually smartphones and single board computers. Since the
materials are affordable and easy to buy, it can be assembled by
anyone which is very suitable for education and trials. This article
contains a mixed short discussion of economics, education,
environments, and innovative technologies.
Index Terms- assembly, cryptocurrency, education, miniature,
mining, power bank, solar panel, USB powered computer devices.
I. INTRODUCTION
t has been 11 years since Satoshi Nakamoto publish the
bitcoin whitepaper [1]. Bitcoin made into the spotlight at the
end of 2017 where the price of bitcoin peaked up to $20000
per coin. The bubble burst then which the price dropped down
to $3000. At the writing of this article, the price soars once
again to $10000. The rising price attracts many investors and
the volatility attracts many traders. In other words, many
people seek to own bitcoin and other cryptocurrency coins for
profit.
Originally, these cryptocurrency coins were not meant as an
investment instrument but a novel method for electronic
transactions, consensus, and asset storage. While common
electronic transaction needs a third party like banks and any
other financial institutions to verify the transaction,
cryptocurrency coins do not need a third party where
consensus is achieved through algorithm, mathematics, and
honest network. However, this is a discussion for another time
due to the limited space of this article.
Straight to the point, this article discusses mining in
environmental and financial point of view. The technical detail
is too much to be discussed on this article but financially,
mining is the process of obtaining cryptocurrency coin by
donating computational power to the network. Electricity cost
is the biggest problem therefore, majority of miners seeks a
renewable source of energy such as hydro, solar, and wind [3].
This article discusses the solar energy for electricity
generation but different from other work, this work is scaled to
miniature size and primarily targets the education sector and
the general public. Therefore, the objective of this work is to
assemble a module where the materials are easy to obtain, the
methods are easy to follow, and discusses the finance of
mining. This article’s innovation is a solar power bank USB
powered computer devices, due to limited space of this article,
only a single board computer brand Asus Tinker Board (ATB)
which can be shown on Fig. 1 is demonstrated.
II. MATERIALS AND METHOD
TABLE I. MATERIALS NECESSARY TO EXECUTE THE CONCEPT OF THIS WORK
Fig. 1. Setup of single board computer additionally with USB miner powered
by solar panel power bank.
The first step is to build the device. The materials necessary
can be referred at TABLE I which can be bought at an
electronic shop or online shop. Once the materials are
available, they should be assembled as shown on Fig. 1. The
solar panel is used to charge the power bank and should be
exposed to sunlight. The power bank should be used to power
the USB computer devices and the device that provides
Internet connection if necessary.
The second step is to build the software. Although other
computers and accessories are not necessary during mining,
they are necessary during building the software. Generally,
there are four steps in building the software which are 1)
installing the operating system, 2) installing the miner and its
dependencies, 3) choose a coin to mine, 4) joining a pool or
setup solo mining, and 5) creating a cryptocurrency wallet.
The third step is mining, measurement, and accounting.
Electricity can be measured using USB volt meter. The
electrical power of solar harvesting and mining can be
I
Materials Specification Price
S
olar Pane
l
2
0W, 5V, 10 .56 c
m
2
$ 1
5
P
ower Ban
k
5V, 1
-
2
A, 20 A
h
$ 2
0
T
wo T
y
p
e C USB Cable
$
5
Internet Connection ~1MBps for 3 GB per month ~ $ 8.95
USB Computer Devices Asus Tinker Board (ATB) ~ $ 50
ASIC USB (additional) Futurebit Moonlander 2 ~ $ 60
14-1-o
measured. The central processing unit (CPU), random access
memory (RAM), and data rate can be using applications in the
ATB. Finally, the costs and the income are accounted to
calculate the profit.
III. DISCUSSION
This discussion contains the measurement and accounting
for the financial and technical report. Before that, the authors
would like to describe the experience of the whole assembly
and measurement process. Assembling the hardware does not
take over a minute. Installing the operating system and the
applications do takes some literacy. Deciding a pool to time
and configuration may take some time. The measurement
process is not difficult. Overall, the assembly is suitable as an
experiment module for education and the general public.
As for the technical report, the measurement result of
harvested solar power shown on TABLE II and the resource
consumption shown on TABLE III are needed. The
calculation between the harvested solar power and electrical
power for mining determines the daily mining duration. The
data rate in TABLE III determines the Internet cost while the
CPU and RAM checks whether the computer is powerful
enough or not for mining.
TABLE II. SOLAR POWER GENERATED DAILY
A
vera
g
e In
p
ut
D
ail
y
Sunli
g
h
t
E
lectricit
y
Dail
y
3.825 watt (w) 12 hour (h) 45.9 watt hour (wh)
TABLE III. ASUS TINKER BOARD AVERAGE RESOURCE CONSUMPTION
Device
CPU
RAM
Data Rate
Power
ATB CPU
100 %
205 MB
0.626 kBps
3.55 w
A
TB GP
U
25 %
8
00 M
B
0
.53 kB
p
s
4
.29
w
A
SIC US
B
2 %
2
00 M
B
1.064 kB
p
s
8
.21
w
As for the financial report, the cost and income are the main
discussion. However there many variables that affects the
income which is shown on TABLE IV which are the hash rate
and the coin of choice. Due to page limitation, this work only
discusses Litecoin because it can be mined on ATB’s CPU,
GPU, and ASIC. The block difficulty indicates the
competition, the block reward and coin price (for now only in
USD) affects the maximum income. The formula to calculate
the amount of bitcoin obtained from mining can be seen on (1).
For other coins, the formula can be slightly different but
should follow similar concept to (1). The cost are mainly the
electricity and Internet which should be research, in this case
are costs in Japan.
Expected Payout in BTC = HtB/223D [3] (1)
H = hashrate, T = time, B = block reward, D = block difficulty
TABLE IV. VARIABLES THAT AFFECTS MINING INCOME
TABLE V. PROFITABILITY TABLE
The daily profit can be seen on TABLE VI. TABLE VI
shows how much money can be earned using this articles
method, but the Internet cost is omitted for this article to limit
complication because in reality the Internet is not only used
for mining but also for all other activities. Additionally, the
profit of regular mining by paying electricity is compared to
using this article’s method by generating own electricity with
solar panel power bank. For regular mining instead is not a
profit but a loss. For mining with this article’s method is
profitable but limited to the daily mining time because of the
generated power on TABLE III is not enough to run the
mining for the whole day. From the data on TABLE II and
TABLE III, it is possible to calculate the daily mining time on
TABLE VI. Thus, the daily income is the multiplication of
TABLE IV mining income converted in USD and the daily
mining time on TABLE VI.
TABLE VI. PROFIT OF MINING WITH PAYING ELECTRICITY VERSUS GETTING
ELECTRICITY FROM SOLAR PANEL
Device Daily Profit
w
ith Electricit
y
Daily Mining
T
im
e
S
olar
Daily Profit with
Solar Pow
e
r
Ban
k
ATB CPU
$ -0.015322158 12 h 56 m $ 0.000007456
ATB GPU
$ -0.018370232 10 h 42 m $ 0.000072479
ASIC USB
$ -0.02596304 5 h 35 m $ 0.002218685
IV. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK
This article successfully assembled a miniature
cryptocurrency coin mining powered by solar energy. The
method is well suited for education and general public because
the materials are affordable and easy to obtain, and the
assembly process are not complicated. The financial and
technical aspect were discussed. The authors concluded that
the profit in this work is not worth it and only suitable as an
experiment module for education. However, this work is only
an introduction where many possibilities are not yet explored.
The choice of coin affects the profit and in combination
with a good investor’s instinct, a large gain is possible like
nobody predicted that the price of bitcoin could rise from $1 to
$10000 in ten years. For example, mining Magicoin on CPU
can profit $ 0.0026 a day which is 349 times more profitable
that Litecoin. Other than constantly searching and switching to
the right coin to mine, device expansion may increase income.
Also, there are other types of renewable energies that are still
not utilized and other hardware not yet explored. Aside from
education, financial, and technology, this innovation is good
for cryptocurrency contribution and hobby.
V. REFERENCES
[1] Nakamoto S. Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system, 2008,
https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.
[2] Bendiksen, C. Surprise: Majority of BTC Energy Sourced from Hydro /
Wind / Solar . Medium, CoinShares, 2019 June 06,
https://medium.com/coinshares/surprise-majority-of-btc-energy-sourced-
from-hydro-wind-solar-49f73839aec6.
[3] Rosenfeld M. Analysis of bitcoin pooled mining reward systems. arXiv
preprint arXiv:1112.4980. 2011 Dec 21. https://arxiv.org/abs/1112.4980.
[4] “Litecoin (LTC) Statistics - Price, Blocks Count, Difficulty, Hashrate,
Value.” BitInfoCharts, https://bitinfocharts.com/litecoin/. Accessed 5
August 2019.
[5] “HOME.” TEPCO, https://www7.tepco.co.jp/ep/rates/electricbill-e.html.
Accessed 5 August 2019.
[6] Lane G. “Japan SIM Cards: Major Providers Compared.” Tokyo Cheapo,
5 Aug. 2019, https://tokyocheapo.com/business/japan-sim-card-options-
data-voice/.
V
ariabl
e
V
alu
e
H
ash rat
e
A
sus Tinker Board CPU
2
.06 kH/
s
A
sus Tinker Board GP
U
2
4.2 kH/
s
Futurebit Moonlander 2
3.3 MH/s
Block difficulty 15,608,688 [4]
Block reward LTC 25 [4]
Coin price LTC 1 =$ 94.22 [4]
Current Profit 2.7809 USD/Day for 1
G
Hash/s
V
ariabl
e
C
ate
g
or
y
V
alu
e
Mining
income:
A
TB CPU Income
L
TC 1
0
-
1
2
x
17
/
s
A
TB GP
U
L
TC 1
0
-
1
1
x
2/s
ASIC USB LTC 10
-
9
x 12/s
Electricity Cost $ 0.18 / kwh [5]
Internet Cost $ 8.95 / month (3 GB) [6]
... Then Purnama [6] developed a micro-mining system based on an Asus Tinker Board CPU, GPU miners and a Futurebit Moonlander 2 ASIC miner. Govender [7] performed a theoretical study on sustainable cryptocurrency mining as a concept and identified the potential business models that could be considered eco-innovative. ...
Presentation
Full-text available
Cryptocurrency mining refers to a process in which people earn monetary rewards against their invested computational resources for solving complex mathematical puzzles. These returns are directly proportional to the computing speed of the mining hardware, and thus its electric power requirements. Increasing commercial interest in cryptocurrency mining is promoting energy wastage and greenhouse gas emissions on a huge scale, which is becoming an alarming global sustainability issue. An alternative approach would be to power the mining hardware using renewable energy resources. This paper investigates the profitability of investment in solar photovoltaic (PV)-powered cryptocurrency mining. Considering the current trends, Ethereum (ETH) was chosen as the mining currency. “Bitmain Antminer E9”, which is the state-of-the-art Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) hardware, was selected as the mining machine. Simulations, performed for various cities of New Zealand, showed a daily revenue and payback period of $288 ($2,019 weekly) and less than one year on average, respectively. This was obtained with an initial investment of $100,000, assuming that the ETH market price doesn’t fall below $3,320. To power up the system, a 23kW PV array would be required, along with a battery bank capacity of 7,625 Ah. The underlying technical and financial assumptions are also discussed. Apart from the commercial value of this research, the study serves as an interesting technology-oriented business case for engineering and business students.
... The setup was able to produce only bitcoin dust, which is an untransactable amount. Then, Purnama et al. (2019) ...
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