Bitcoin farm in Montana to use solar energy for mining

Montana cryptocurrency miners are backing the Basin Creek Solar Project, a 300 megawatt  solar array farm in Butte, to supply energy for an expanding data center, reported local news Montana Standard.

Madison River Equity LLC will apply for a special use permit next month from a Montana zoning board to build one of the biggest solar farms in the US on private ranch land in Butte.

Expanding capacities while reducing expenditure

Madison River Equity is a sub-entity of a company called FX Solutions that developed and manages the Atlas Power data center, located close to the proposed solar project. Atlas Power mines cryptocurrency and is set on expanding its Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).

If all the special use permits are obtained, Atlas Power would buy the Basin Creek Solar Project and use the solar array to power its mining operations, for which it has a 75-megawatt permit from the state.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Montana had only 116 megawatts of solar capacity installed, ranking it 43rd in the US, according to The Solar Energy Industries Association report.

Matt Vincent, a spokesperson for the solar project, said that the Atlas Power operation has been reducing their expenditure with efficiency changes, scaling their rates from a previous high of 65 down to 25 megawatts. 

Atlas power is planning an expansion of its GPUs by adding 8 new buildings in the short term. Thousands of additional GPUs are going to facilitate the data center’s diversification beyond crypto to a broad scope of cutting-edge tech work.

Criticism and disbelief 

The end goal of the project is to power the mining facility completely with solar array energy and put the remaining power on the grid. Developers said the solar farm would have the capacity to power around 40.000 homes, which greatly surpasses Butte’s size of roughly 15.000 households, as mentioned in the local news report.

Butte residents are worried about the project’s impact on their community. The majority of the criticism revolves around building renewables for new projects, while a lot of existing crucial infrastructure is still waiting to address their carbon footprint.

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