Abu Dhabi Gets its First Immersion Cooled Crypto Mining Farms

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  • Crypto mining farms are now feasible to be set up in the Middle East, first, in Abu Dhabi.
  • Abu Dhabi Global Markets, a joint venture is deploying immersion cooling to sustain Bitcoin mining in the desert conditions of the Middle East.

Immersion Cooled crypto mining farms are going to be established for the first time in the Middle East. On May 9, Marathon Digital Holdings announced that it is collaborating with Abu Dhabi’s Zero Two to deploy two large-scale mining farms in Abu Dhabi. They will make Bitcoin mining possible in the desert areas of the UAE with the help of immersion cooling techniques.

Crypto Mining Farms for the first time in the Middle East

Crypto mining farms built with the collaboration of Marathon Digital Holdings, a leading US-based crypto mining company, and Zero Two, Abu Dhabi’s first blockchain developer company, will be Middle East’s first two large-scale immersion-cooled Bitcoin mining farms. This joint venture is named Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM).

Based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE, ADGM received a capital investment of about $406 million. A major chunk of 80% of the company is held by the Abu Dhabi government-backed Zero Two while 20% is owned by Marathon. Zero Two is actually established by the Abu Dhabi government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

They are going to be two large-scale mining farms with a combined capacity of a whopping 250 MW, for the mining of Bitcoin. The bigger 200 MW facility will be built at Masdar City, which is called the “sustainability hub” of Abu Dhabi. The other smaller one of 50 MW will be at an inland deep-water port, Mina Zayed.

Overcoming problems faced in crypto mining in the Middle East

Extra heavy and advanced software consumes considerable energy due to many programs and algorithms executed in logic circuits. This leads to waste heat generation in the components. The more a circuit is advanced, the more heat it generates. But there is only a bracket of temperature that makes it permissive for operations. Hence, there is an external cooling mechanism required to lower the temperatures in these integrated circuits.

Generally, air conditioners are used for ‘computer cooling’ at most server stations. ASICs, used for crypto mining, require specialized air conditioning and cooling mechanisms due to their exceptionally high-performance computing. This creates severe challenges in hot and dry regions such as the Middle East. It is one of the reasons mining hasn’t been possible in the Middle East until now.

In the scorchingly hot and arid climate of the desert geography of the Middle East with temperatures soaring as high as 85℉, air cooling that is facilitated by air conditioners, is an ineffective idea. Further, the rampant sand and dust storms greatly impair the cooling.

That’s where liquid immersion cooling comes in handy. The key is to find compounds or a mixture of compounds that are thermally conductive but electrically insulating and stay in liquid form at room temperature. The entire computer or specific components are immersed in the liquid.

ADGM is going to deploy immersion cooling, a relatively new technique used for computer cooling. They have custom-made an immersion coolant to specifically support the energy-extensive Bitcoin mining using ASICs in the desert conditions of Abu Dhabi. The companies expect to maintain a total hash rate generation at 7 EH/s. ADGM has committed to making both mining farms operational by 2024.

Energy sourcing for the project

The companies plan to exploit excess energy from Abu Dhabi’s power grid. There are plenty of excess energy generation in Arab nations owing to their abundant oil reserves. This will increase the base load of the power grid, greatly enhancing its power efficiency.

Besides, they also intend to use clean energy sources that are quite abundant in Abu Dhabi, specifically solar energy and wind energy to the greatest extent possible. They have also proposed to dispose of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to counter any non-sustainable energy consumption they might incur.

Strikingly, the Middle Eastern partnership appears to be a strategic move amid campaigns in the US to impose taxes on crypto miners. Due to this almost-crisis situation of energy consumption in crypto mining, public concerns have risen. White House is campaigning to sanction a 30% “climate tax” on the energy consumption costs of crypto miners in the country.

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