Waste Energy and Bitcoin Mining – Interview with Ralph Lewis, Drone Energy
Drone Energy provides efficient, modular scalability and the ability to maximize cash return on their partners’ investments in infrastructure through their patent-pending system for relocating and operating modular high-performance compute systems adjacent to underutilized power assets.
Could you give us a brief history and aims of Drone Energy?
Drone Energy is a Bitcoin and blockchain infrastructure engineering firm. We patented and brought to market a modular load system that provides immediate cash-flow to stranded and idle generation systems. We launched the business at the end of 2017, successfully raised a seed round in Spring 2018, launched our MVP in the Summer of 2018, and gained our first commercial sales in 2019. We look to 2020 to bring our first energy partnership from which we will continue to scale. Drone Energy aims to catalyze a new phase of energy infrastructure build-out promulgated by Bitcoin mining.
How can Drone Energy aid energy production asset optimization?
Drone Energy provides grid-alternative baseload to stranded or under-utilized energy generating systems. This load provides the generator with profitable cash-flow, without utilizing the entire output of the system, making the generator an even more agile grid operator.
How do your modules work? Are there any similar projects out there?
Our modules provide a curtailable load by performing Bitcoin blockchain transaction processing, known as “mining”. Through this process, waste energy is immediately transferred into the store of value, known as Bitcoin, for the generator. Similar projects can be found but there is no other turn-key provider of this type of solution in the market.
Can you elaborate further regarding this process and what how it works out for your clients?
Specifically, our system provides load vis-à-vis the collective Bitcoin transaction processing computers housed within our modules. Our system generates new Bitcoins from waste energy. Our clients receive this Bitcoin, or dollars, after selling this Bitcoin.
How have your modules performed? What kind of results does Drone Energy integration bring in terms of energy efficiency and CO2 savings?
Our modules are designed for continuous operation in all weather conditions. To date, we have deployed modules in temperate climates around the world. They have operated within expectation through all 4 seasons, sustaining temperatures ranging from +100 degrees to sub-32 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of energy savings, our solution typically captures 3-4x the wholesale energy rates offered by the grid.
You have a lot of projects in your pipeline. How is the future looking?
To date, we have sold six units across three locations. We have a number of projects in the pipeline and the recent global health crisis has only increased the demand for our solution. The future looks bright.
What are the factors that need to be taken into account during the design of a new module?
Project considerations include:
- Load capacity needed for the generator
- Cost of generation
- Voltage delivered to the project
- Bitcoin market cycle
Could you tell us a bit more about the unit variations?
We have two general variations of our system based on size and load. Our 20ft unit provides 1.4 Mw of continuous load and our 40ft unit provides 2.8 Mw of continuous load. Both variants have optionality including the degree of automation, the degree of weather suitability, and the type of computing equipment housed within.
Are you planning on expanding outside the US?
Yes, in fact we already have large clients based in other countries. To that end, we have also filed for protection on our global system patent in USA, Canada, and China.
How do you see renewables uptake and integration in the US at the moment? What are the biggest obstacles currently?
Renewable integration is ongoing. However, as more renewables come into existence, the grid experiences more edge cases due to this new type of technology. Specifically, the duck curve is accentuated. Our solution smooths the duck curve by allowing an idle generation to maintain minimum load, ready to make up the difference when renewables fall off.
Last but not least, how did you manage to drink 2343409 cups of coffee? 🙂