'Cryptomatoes' Are Bringing Together Bitcoin Mining and Agriculture

One major criticism of cryptocurrency has been the huge amount of electricity required to mine it. This five-acre greenhouse is one solution.

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Mar 26 2018, 2:30pm

Composite image by MUNCHIES staff / Photos via Flickr users Adam Selwood and Antana

In December, each Bitcoin was worth an all-time high of $19,783, which is why that one guy you vaguely remember from high school wouldn’t shut the F up about it on social media. And although its value has fallen to $8,090 today, it’s clearly not going away. That means we’re stuck with the side effects from Bitcoin mining too, like those mind-numbing conversations, white dudes who rap about crypto, and insane electricity requirements.

As the price of Bitcoin increases (or decreases, and then increases again—who knows?), so does the amount of electricity required to mine it. “Effectively, a bunch of computers engage in a race to burn through the most electricity possible and, every ten minutes, one wins a prize of 12.5 Bitcoin for the effort,” The Guardian writes. Cryptocurrency miners are always looking for locations with lower energy costs, which is why banks of computers in Iceland are expected to consume more energy this year than the country’s population will. (Iceland is a desirable location due to its cheap geothermal energy sources—and smaller power bills mean bigger profits).

A side effect of the rigs and servers that serious miners accumulate? Lots of heat. (One low-level miner in Washington-state said his three servers were enough to keep his house warm this winter). But Kamil Brejcha, co-founder of Czech digital currency exchange NakamotoX, isn’t letting that warmth go to waste. He revealed on Twitter that the excess heat from the company’s computer servers is blown into a greenhouse where they’re growing tomatoes—or “cryptomatoes,” as he’s calling them.

“Who would imagine that mining cryptocurrencies and agriculture can work together?” he wrote. “The first batch of cryptomatoes is ready to be harvested. We are using the excess heat for the tomato greenhouse and it is working.”

Breja declined to give many other details about the project (“We’re in stealth mode,” he repeated) but did reveal that the greenhouse covered around five acres, that the tomatoes would soon be available in “common shops” in Prague, and that his mining operation is powered by bio-waste produced energy. “So basically we have closed the energy cycle loop,” he parped.

Because this is Twitter, people immediately chimed in to ask him why he wasn’t growing weed. “Unfortunately, because of local strict rules, we were unable to obtain a license for medical marijuana growing so we had to choose tomatoes and other vegetables instead,” he replied.

Sigh. To the future!