The cryptocurrency market is starting to use an astronomical amount of energy to mine coins. A very common mining rig is the Bitmain Antminer S9. This mining rig can use up to 12045KWh a year. With electricity prices up to 12 cents a KWh in the United States, that means you could pay upwards of $1,445 a year to run only one machine. Big warehouses can have dozens to hundreds of machines like this running 24 hours a day. This can make for a big payday to your electrical company, and destroy any profits you were counting on seeing.
Now this machine is designed to mine bitcoin, and you can potentially make a profit doing this with the price bitcoin has attained. But when we consider different, newer altcoins that run the same algorithm (SHA-256d), this becomes a major problem. With new and beginning coins or even some stable coins that have been on the market such as Terracoin (TRC), you would actually take a loss on this machine. Running numbers like this can be very disconcerting to the community as a whole, and this scenario rings true for a variety of coins on the market today. This limits the new or average miner's choices on what they can mine.
The proposal for combating this rising energy consumption would be to convert to a renewable energy source. This can and should be a transitional change using any number of resources (e.g., hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.). The most readily available resources to the common company or individual would be wind or solar energy. A system that utilizes one or both of these energy sources could severely decrease the costs one would pay to the electrical provider.
There are really two main concerns when talking about adapting these technologies to coin mining operations: autonomous sustainability and large upfront costs. These problems go hand in hand. For more autonomy, you will have a larger upfront cost. For example, for a system that could handle a couple Bitmain Antminer S9s, an individual might add upwards of $20,000 to their initial costs to be able to power these autonomously for 24 hours a day.
So for a system like that, you might not see a good ROI based on how much in energy you saved for the first couple of years. But while that might be discouraging, the average solar system has a lifespan of 20+ years. A system like this would pay for itself three- to four-fold – maybe even more – in the long run. That is what cryptocurrency miners should be striving for: long term sustainability. Eliminating these power costs in the long run would also allow diversification into currencies that might net them a loss if they were on the grid. The long term five to ten year plan for any cryptocurrency mining company should be to convert to systems like these and get off of the power grids to save money. In certain countries, this will also prevent them from being shut down completely – like the companies in China.