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Paypal founder Peter Thiel backs wind-powered crypto mining

By Francis Jay

San Francisco start-up aims to treble US hash rate share

US startup Layer1, backed by Paypal founder Peter Thiel, has raised $30 million (£23.5 million) in Series A funding to bring wind-powered bitcoin mining rigs to the US.

The business wants to make the West Texas plains a global hub for sustainable bitcoin mining, starting in early 2020. The move follows criticism over the energy-intensive nature of mining activities. In July, University of Cambridge researchers published new estimates showing that bitcoin-related activity consumes more energy globally than the entire nation of Switzerland.

Over 16 per cent of power in Texas comes from wind, which Layer1 says will allow the company to power a high proportion of its hash rate from renewable sources. In addition, Texas has some of the lowest industrial electricity prices in the US.

Layer1 co-founder Alex Liegl said in a statement: “Layer1 Technologies Inc. is the first US-based, vertically-integrated Bitcoin mining company and it is our mission to strengthen Bitcoin’s decentralization and usage of renewable energy.”

At present, China dominates the bitcoin industry, boasting the largest mining companies and producing the lion’s share of chips and other mining equipment. But Liegl claims that Texas offers the perfect environment - natural and business - for challenging that dominance.

“The future of Bitcoin mining lies in the heart of the United States: Texas. This is where world-class electricity prices, friendly regulation, and an abundance of renewable energy sources meet. It is here that we are rapidly scaling our mining operations to bring as much hash rate as possible back to the United States.”

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