If you’ve been involved for even a minute in the world of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and distributed ledgers, you’ll know there’s a term for tokens that are entirely useless and destined to end up on the crypto garbage pile.
But one company is taking a very different approach to cryptocurrency mining, taking the waste we humans produce and converting it into energy, which is then used to mine new tokens. This gives the term an entirely new definition, one that is wholly more useful.
With a vision of being an eco-friendly blockchain ecosystem powered by waste to provide energy for power plants, 4New has announced a $30 million private equity institutional investment round from Mirach Capital. This is Mirach Capital’s first investment following the announcement of its $200 million crypto-fund late last year.
So how does it work?
4New has designed a process that utilizes anaerobic digestion technology to convert regular household waste and feedstock into electricity. This energy is currently sold to the U.K. National Grid.
It is important to note that this solution is not like other blockchain energy platforms.
“4New is not an energy exchange platform, like WePower and PowerLedger,” 4New CEO and founder Varun Datta told me. “The energy which is bought and sold by these other solutions is brokered, not produced by them. We are the energy producer, produced on a cost-negative basis by using government incentives and waste acceptance charges to offset the operational costs of the plant.”
And this isn’t vaporware, either. 4New’s power plants, which are located in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the U.K., are fully operational.
Waste to energy (WTE) technology isn’t new. There are 71 WTE plants within the United States and over 80 WTE plants in Europe. 4New’s strategy is simply to use WTE as its desired protocol to purchase, build, and develop power plants globally.
But the addition of a cryptocurrency element makes 4New significant in the WTE industry.
Not only is the company tackling waste surplus and energy shortfall, it will use the energy created to offset the voracious consumption encountered when mining cryptocurrencies. In addition to selling power to the National Grid, energy will be applied to the operation of mining processes at an onsite mining farm.
4New will mine digital assets such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies. Exactly which currencies are mined will be determined by the holders of the 4New utility token (KWATT).
“Because the KWATT is backed by one kilowatt of electricity, although feeding back to the grid would offer returns for the KWATT coin holders, it would not offer much for reinvestment into new plants,” Datta said. “However, mining currently offers 3-4 times the revenues of feeding back into the grid, which allows us to allocate a large portion for future expansion. The mining revenue is therefore used to repay the KWATT holders — or holders of the energy — for the leasing of electricity back to the plant.”
And blockchain technology plays an essential part in ensuring KWATT holders stay informed and up to date.
“The blockchain technology is not just used to help the KWATT holders stake their coins on our platform for the returns, it also helps us to offer transparency to the whole ecosystem,” Datta said. “A KWATT can be pegged to not just one kilowatt of electricity, but for monitoring the KWATT holders’ other tangible benefits, such as how much waste they have diverted from landfill, or the volume of greenhouse gases they have recovered.”
And those greenhouse gasses, in traditional crypto-mining, are significant.
The crypto-mining community, up to this point, has remained focused on mining by trying to source the cheapest power available. However, with Bitcoin consuming as much energy in a year as the nation of Chile, some U.S. utility companies have banned miners from tapping into subsidized power rates.
WTE plants, however, operate at breakeven due to revenue generated from the sale of waste processing services and byproducts. Therefore the energy produced is, in essence, free and can be sold to the grid. 4New has decided to dedicate this energy to the blockchain and mine the most desired cryptocurrencies.
The money raised today will be used to take the concept to the countries where it is most needed.
“The private equity has already assisted our team with the most capital-intensive processes that we have undertaken so far,” Datta said. “The demands of our sale required power production in a period of time that would have been otherwise unachievable if we were to build the plants ourselves, which is why the initial plants had to be secured through purchase. 4New’s roadmap continues to grow in exciting ways, which includes ongoing discussions with the governments of St Lucia and Puerto Rico to manage all of their waste. These countries currently have a devastating waste problem, and we plan to use our ecosystem to help address it.”