First of all, thank you for welcoming me to this community. I just started learning about this project, so please be understanding if I there are some things I do not yet fully comprehend.
I come from a computer science background and I work in the renewable energy sector for a company that owns and operates hundreds of wind turbines as well as some solar plants spread across Germany and other parts of Europe. We are interested in potentially contributing to this project by operating 3Nodes as Farmers, that will be powered exclusively by renewable energy.
Understanding the problem
As most of you are probably aware, renewable energy, aside from its many advantages, has one major disadvantage compared to carbon based forms of energy. This disadvantage lays in its limited availability. Even though there is potentially an endless amount of wind and solar power to be harvested, this power is not available at all times. Depending on the region, our wind turbines are able to produce electricity between 70% to 90% percent of the year. When combining wind power with solar power, the availability can be further increased, as a lot of times during the daytime the sun is shining when wind is scarce.
Still, reaching even close to 100% availability in an economical and sustainable way is not achievable.
Understanding the Opportunities
While renewable energy is not available at all times, there are other times where renewable energy production exceeds the demand. This circumstance is further intensified by electricity grids often being unable to carry these peak energy production volumes all the way across the country to areas with demand for electricity. When the production of electricity exceeds the demand, the price per kWh sold at the energy exchange can drop significantly and even become negative. From this arrises the opportunity to make use of this overproduction of energy in an economical way.
Forming a solution
There are quite a few ways to make use of excess electricity. It can be stored in batteries, converted to heat (warm water) or to gas (hydrogen). Another possible solution is to ramp up energy intensive operations when supply of energy is high (and prices low) and to restrict those tasks to a minimum when supply is low (and prices high). Energy intensive IT-Applications can be a suitable candidate for this.
The problem of course here is, that we as a society are used to all of our IT-Services being constantly available to us, no matter when and where. In the last one and a half years we have started to use some of our cheap green energy to power ASICs to mine some Bitcoin on a small scale. The advantage with this is, that our crypto miners can be turned on or off at any time, depending on energy availability and prices. I do not want to discuss the pros and cons of proof of work mining in this context, but we are eager to find alternative IT-Applications that would enable us to make use of our unsteady renewable energy availability. There are some fields of use that I could think of that do not necessarily need constant availability, such as machine learning or 3D-Rendering. But setting up the entire infrastructure and acquiring paying customers for our services will be completely new challenge by itself. That’s where I see an opportunity for us to join the ThreeFold Grid as Farmers.
From our perspective the future of computing will be 100% sustainable (it has to be). The German government even set itself the goal that all new data centers from 2027 on shall be carbon neutral. In order to achieve this, energy must be consumed right where it is produced and when it is available. Technologies and concepts like ThreeFold could be a key component in this transition.
As a producer of green wind and solar power we want to be part of the solution. Obviously we have to be able to turn a profit with this in the long term, but there is also the research component in this all that interests us.
Distributed Farming with unsteady Renewable Energy
From my current understanding Famers on the ThreeFold grid are only getting paid if their 3Nodes are available at least 97% of the time. Since this is not achievable using renewable energy alone, I would like to start a discussion here to determine whether or not there are or will be opportunities to contribute to the ThreeFold grid as Farmers with a lower availability.
From my humble viewpoint, a highly distributed and redundant system such as the ThreeFold grid should be a perfect candidate to support the needs and requirements of carbon neutral IT-Applications by enabling them to stay up and running, even when some parts and subsystems of the entire grid are unavailable due to a lack of sustainable energy.
Maybe Farmers could be enabled to clone their 3Nodes and set them up in multiple different locations to increase availability and redundancy on a node by node basis (multiple nodes are treated as a single node by the grid). Of course profitability would be greatly limited by this, if the reward payout scheme is not adapted accordingly. In general, from what I understand, the Grid already takes care of the required redundancy itself so it should not matter too much if one of our nodes is unavailable from time to time.
Nevertheless, when uptime requirements for all nodes decrease, so could the quality of service of the entire grid. I don’t know what approach would be best suitable, but if there is any potential solution for sustainable energy companies like us to contribute to this project, I would be glad to hear about it.
Any input, ideas or remarks are on this are appreciated. Thank you for joining me in this discussion.