At times like this, Bill Spence turns into “a whining jerk.”
Spence, the co-founder of upstart cryptocurrency developer Stronghold Mining, explains what the company’s success means to him.
“It means everything to me,” he said in a recent Zoom interview. “I am a wonder. I was given 48 hours to live at one point. So I feel like every day is a bonus day.Spence was apparently on his deathbed as kidney cancer ravaged him and left him much thinner. Spence’s gallbladder had thrown mud into his pancreas and blocked it. Doctors estimate that his pancreas has lost about 70% of its function.
“I was on a feeding tube for a few months,” he recalls. “I lost about 45 pounds. I am still quite thin. I gained about 20 pounds. While tending to the pancreas, they discovered kidney cancer.
It took years to heal from cancer
After a recovery that took years and several surgeries, Spence started Stronghold with his old friend Greg Beard. The two friends aim to use the money earned through bitcoin mining and the sale of excess electricity from coal-fired power plants that electrify the digital currency harvesting effort.
Stronghold leads bitcoin mining, the process of create new digital pieces by solving a very complex mathematical puzzle using lightning-fast computers, according to Investopedia. The mining process is necessary to maintain the ledger of transactions that bitcoin is based on. The term bitcoin interchangeably refers to a cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin and other digital currencies often referred to as bitcoin.
On October 20, Stronghold found gold by becoming the first bitcoin miner to go public. The share price climbed 65% on the Nasdaq from its opening price of $ 19. The stock remained well above that mark, closing up 2.23% on Friday Oct. 29 at $ 27.46 and edging up in after-hours trading.
Stronghold markets itself first as an environmental reclamation company and second as a bitcoin miner.
Spence, from Pennsylvania, believes his kidney cancer and his father’s battle with the same disease are linked to toxins in water and soil resulting from the oxidation of carbon dioxide emissions from old coal mines . The state has suffered significant environmental damage from centuries of old coal mining.
“I grew up on one of those piles (of damaged dirt),” Spence said. “I used to play baseball on one when I was a kid.”
Power plants help replenish the soil
In the mid-1990s, Pennsylvania developed electric cogeneration facilities powered by waste coal mined from damaged soil. Prior to becoming a bitcoin miner, Spence was the independent owner and operator of one of these facilities near the Scrubgrass coal waste plant where Stronghold generates electricity and mines digital currency.
“The (cogeneration) plants were designed specifically to burn this type of material,” Spence said. “(The operators) put limestone in the boiler and the limestone then gives an ash which is a beneficial ash that can be used and put back into place and that neutralizes the soil because you create a pH balance between the acidic soil that has been mixed with these wastes and limestone, which is basic. So you get a pH neutral soil that can be revegetated and people can then settle in.
Reorientation of communities
“We like to say that we don’t just reuse these sites. We are reassigning those communities where you can build houses. Hope we attract people.
Stronghold sells electricity to the Pennsylvania power grid. The company is committed to providing excess electricity to the grid during extreme weather conditions to compensate for power outages, even if that means temporarily stopping bitcoin mining operations.
“We think that’s one of the advantages that bitcoin offers in this situation, the stability of the network,” Spence said. “There has been a lot of talk about bitcoin and its negative impact on power system grids, but we believe the way we do it and the way it’s used in Pennsylvania is actually improving the grid so that this availability in peak situations are there. “
As a result, Spence said, Stronghold can help Pennsylvania avoid power outages that have occurred in Texas and other areas.
While trying to reallocate communities and power plants, Stronghold is also trying to revamp bitcoin mining, which has been criticized for its high costs, power consumption, and environmental footprint due to the need for large data centers.
Develop new facilities
Stronghold has bitcoin mining operations at Kennerdell’s Scrubgrass factory, Pennsylvania and is in the process of developing two more power plants.
Spence and Beard believe their strategy of tying bitcoin mining to power generation gives them an edge over their competition.
“Ironically, buying the electrical assets is probably the easiest part for us,” Beard said. “Most bitcoin mining companies are not vertically integrated.
“We are the first on a real scale to do this. And that’s really because the industry didn’t come out of the electricity industry where obviously (Spence) and I did it, ”said Beard, who developed a number of other power plants.
Beard said it costs Stronghold $ 3,000 to make each digital part, less than half the expense of rival miners.
“Vertical integration, we believe, is the future of this business, and having a low cost of electricity is essential, as most of the cost of bitcoin mining is electricity,” Beard said. .
Stronghold aims to achieve an eight exa-hash execution rate by the end of 2022. An exa-hash rate refers to the ultra-high speeds of computers mining bitcoin.
According to Encryptionary.com, one exa hash per second equals one quintillion hashes per second. Beard said Stronghold would be 1.5% of the global hash rate if it didn’t change this year or next.
“And, there are things going on in the market that are slowing the rate of growth of overall aggregate capacity,” Beard said. “The slowdown is linked to the shortage of chips and the difficulty of developing energy assets in data centers. “
To meet its goal of eight exa-hashes by 2022, Stronghold will need a fourth power plant capable of generating 150 megawatts.
“Owning power assets is an important part of our strategy and we want to stay focused on Pennsylvania if we can, but sustaining our rate of growth is more important than the location of our power assets,” a- he declared. “If we can’t acquire competitively priced assets there with low variable cost, we’ll be successful elsewhere. But our first choice is to stay at home.
It’s safe to say that would mean a lot to Spence.
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