Cryptocurrencies, blockchain and mining might seem like alien-sounding concepts to some, but they continue to grow in popularity within technology, startups, banking and even sectors further afield. It also seems almost inevitable that these terms will continue to play a precedence, particularly as blockchain is further developed and its potential further unlocked.

Although it is possible to have a blockchain without mining and cryptocurrencies, so far many associate the terms as accompanying factors. Cryptocurrency mining, similar to traditional mining’s process of extracting valuable materials in a tenuous link, is still essentially paramount to the progression of digital currencies and acts as a backbone to the whole system. A group of miners interpret the blockchain, verify the legitimacy of transactions and resolve and technicalities and encryptions on the block and as a result, receive digital currency as payment for ensuring the steady flow of the blockchain. The process doesnt come without its setbacks however, and requires a powerful server and thus a steady amount of electricity, 70% of which consumes fossil fuels – an amount so vast that one American state banned mining in a big to preserve energy.

It could however be down to one Vienna-based startup, HydroMiner to produce a solution to this dilemma.

Launched in 2016, the startup received a $3 million ICO in 2017 and as a result, the company has been able to rent two hydropower stations near Waidhofen an der Ybbs and Schönberg am Kamp, according to their website. The company’s vision sees them utilise Austria’s hydropower systems to make mining a greener, less energy draining process.  Miners are then able to rent time on the servers, powered by hydro energy, to carry out the mining process whilst also reducing the carbon footprint of the practice.

With the support of a leading energy advisory platform named Pyöry, the startup is further aiming to provide the most effective mining hardware and technology within its locations as well as create a structure that is capable of temperature regulation and airflow. They have since also suggested that the river water could potentially be used to also cool down the energy-demanding equipment.

The German sisters behind the startup, Nadine and Nicole Damblon, actually started on considerably different career paths before turning their attention to mining. According to Forbes, Nadine studied theatre, cinema and media studies and Nicole specialised in East Asian Art History before combining their creativity and channelling innovative ideas into solving the issue of the mining carbon footprint. Since then their startup has scaled up to see its workforce double in size as well as announce plans for a second ICO and hopes to open more hydro powered systems in other countries. They have additionally cast a call out for support and research into the most efficient mining solutions and are offering up a contract to the more promising research development.

One of the founders’ future goals is, as well as encourage further progress in sustainable energy production for cryptocurrency mining, to also lead the way in separating the general perception that links blockchain to cryptocurrencies. The process is a slow one, but the potential of blockchain is actually beginning to push to into the limelight. This, combined with the absolute necessity for greener energy solutions worldwide, could push this startup to the forefront of pioneering this exciting industry.