Josh Riddett, the 30-year-old managing editor at Easy Crypto Hunter in Manchester, England, has reportedly established a system of harvesting energy from the fecal matter of cows in order to mine for cryptocurrency.
In order to harvest cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Dogecoin, computers must process digital transactions on the existing blockchain. Computing power is required to solve mathematical problems, which can take up to dozens of terawatts annually.
To reduce the amount of nonrenewable energy spent on crypto mining, Riddett has turned to farmers like Philip Hughes to use animal waste for alternative power solutions.
“Years ago, farmers were encouraged to develop green energy solutions, which is one of the reasons why we’ve seen solar panels appear in fields over the last 10 years, and these schemes came with good financial incentives,” Riddett explained in a statement to City A.M. “More recently, those incentives have dwindled to virtually zero–but our machines are now providing those lost incentives.”
Each rig is filled with “lots of very powerful computer graphics cards,” which cost about £18,000, or $25,500 USD, per machine, according to the outlet. Sites that hold up to 40 mining computers run off of the methane from the cow waste, which is turned into renewable energy via anaerobic digestion.
Riddett told City A.M. that in addition to the use of anaerobic digestion, his equipment across the 42 sites he occupies also utilize solar-, hydro- and wind-powered generators. Since switching to renewable sources of energy, he has earned upwards of £5 million, or $7 million USD, in global sale orders.
“I’ve always been business-minded, but I’m not a tech nerd,” he told the outlet. “I own the business, but I couldn’t even write a single line of code.”
“I just had months and months of studying the market to learn about cryptocurrency and blockchain while having lots of late nights watching YouTube videos about it,” he added.
Hughes, who also leases out the renewable energy, noted in a statement to the BBC that business has been booming, but “it does very much depend on what day you ask that question.” He acknowledged that the focus on Ethereum mining has been volatile in recent months, and its value has decreased from $4,000 to $2,400 since May.
Riddett also explained to MarketWatch that despite the volatility of the crypto market, the work his company does “couldn’t be greener.”
“Our computers are capable of mining hundreds of different digital currencies but we don’t mine bitcoin because it’s not as energy efficient as other coins and it’s not as profitable,” he explained. “When we started this business four years ago, green energy wasn’t on our customers’ radar, but now it’s approximately 40 percent of our business, and growing every day.”
Riddett also expressed enthusiasm when talking about farmers becoming more digitally savvy with enterprises like leasing renewable energy.
“Farming is getting much harder, and that is something which will often drive a farmer to diversify in order earn a good living,” he told City A.M.
“There’s a lot of diversification going on in farming these days and, while the average age of our agricultural customers is 58, the vast majority of farmers now can talk about technology with the same confidence they talk about cows and pigs.”
Newsweek reached out to Riddett and Easy Crypto Hunting for comment, but they did not immediately respond in time for publication.
Cryptocurrency has also been a hot-button issue in America in light of the recent Colonial Pipeline hack that demanded a $4.4 million USD ransom payment in the form of bitcoin. The Colonial Pipeline CEO recently defended his decision to pay out the hackers, saying no one would “want to know” the results had the ransom not been paid.