SAI is pleased to present to its carbon footprint methodology report and the results of the first national wide data collection exercise. The report presents the carbon footprint of SAI in year 2020. The majority carbon emissions are from the electricity consumptions for running the data centers and bitcoin mining. However, SAI has explored different ways to recover and reuse waste heat in order to create additional sources of income and offset electricity costs.
This document was made possible thanks to the support of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), UNFCCC officers and other professionals who advised SAI with their expertise in carbon footprint calculation, report standards.
Background about SAI and the Supercomputing Industry
1. About SAI
SAI was established in 2019 and has been committed to solving the problem of energy costs of computing. Bearing the mission of becoming the world’s first horizontally integrated clean energy technology company, SAI serves its customers around the world with business solutions from computing to electricity to heating.
2. Main Technology Segments
SAIHEAT (Chip waste heat utilization)
SAIWATT (Clean power consumption)
SAIBYTE (Computing cloud network system)
SAICHIP (New computing chip).
3. Global supercomputing market
The rapid development of some new industries, such as cloud computing, big data, edge computing, artificial intelligence, etc., accelerated the evolution of super-computing.
As for the global supercomputing market, according to Reports and Data, it is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% during 2020 to 2026, reaching USD 13.06 Billion by 2027. The increase in demand for higher processing power and broad adoption of supercomputing systems in commercial sectors are the two major factors driving the growth of this market. Applications of supercomputers can be found in engineering, product design, complex supply chain optimization, and Bitcoin mining.
The supercomputer market is concentrated. On November 18th, 2019, TOP500 announced the list of global top 500 supercomputers. From the perspective of entry numbers, China has further strengthened its leading position over the United States. Of the top 500, China accounts for 228, while the United States accounts for 117, presenting an absolute leading advantage over the United States.
From the perspective of computing power, the United States is still at the top of the list. Among the top 500, the United States accounts for 37.1% of the total computing performance, while China accounts for 32.3%. However, the gap between these two countries is shrinking.
The biggest challenges faced by supercomputing
Nowadays, one of the biggest challenges faced by supercomputing is power consumption. The world’s fastest petascale computer requires 28.3 megawatts to run. As for an exascale computer, it might require 30 to 50 megawatts of power to operate, which equals to the power consumed by the sum of residential buildings of a town of 50,000 to 70,000 people. The cost of electricity is high as well. Ten megawatt of electricity costs USD 4 million each year. Thus, increasing energy efficiency while reducing carbon emission are becoming the major concerns of this industry.
In the future, with more advanced chips like GPUs, FPGAs being broadly adopted by supercomputers, faster and higher performance with greater energy efficiency is expected to be seen in supercomputing industry.
Environmental reporting, and more specifically carbon footprint, has gained widespread importance over the past years worldwide. This inspired SAI to develop a carbon footprint report for its GHG emissions and also set itself as an example for its peers in the supercomputing and crypto industries.
In 2020, SAI collected data from every aspect of its businesses. This report presents the context, methodology, and results of the first edition of SAI’s carbon footprint exercise.
The outcome of this exercise provides for the first time a carbon footprint calculation for the bitcoin mining and supercomputing industry. It will increase the general knowledge of the crypto mining industry.
1. Geographical scope
In 2020, due to the global pandemic, SAI’s business mainly operated in Mainland China.
In 2021, SAI will expand its market coverage and operate its business in Central Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.
2. Product and services scope
The core product that SAI self-designed, developed is called SAICAB. SAI installed SAICAB in all the crypto mining and supercomputing centers in China.
SAI offers hosting services to clients who want to mine the cryptocurrencies by their own. SAI also owns a certain amount of the SAICABs.
3. CO2 equivalent
The GHG Protocol Product Standard covers six different greenhouse gasses. In addition to CO2, it also takes into account CH4, N2O, SF6, HFCs and PFCs. The product carbon footprint calculated by SAI and presented in this report will therefore be presented as tonne of CO2 equivalent per tonne.
These process emissions are calculated based on the stoichiometric calculations on the input material.
With regard to the fuel emissions, fuel conversion factors were used which taken into account the typical emissions from all six greenhouse gases emitted during combustion of the different fuels as well as the upstream emissions related to these fuels.
SAI developed a detailed product carbon footprint methodology in line with the official Greenhouse Gas Protocol Product Standard.
An essential part of the methodology was to set up an extensive data collection exercise amongst SAI all operating sites. For this purpose, a detailed sector guide and questionnaire (in excel) were developed. Site managers had dedicated collected all essential data to report. Data was collected on the Energy Intensity (MWh/tonne). This allowed SAI to calculate the energy intensity and CO2 equivalent carbon footprint.
SAI also send internal experts to all the sites to check the real operation environment and data collection process. SAI ensures all the data are reliable and correct.
1. Data sources:
In accordance with the GHG Product Standard, the carbon impact must be calculated based on primary data. The data requested from SAI sites covered energy consumption for each process step. Reporting was carried out at plant level in order to maximize the number of data points to assess the variability of the results.
2. Reporting period:
Data has been reported for a rolling (continuous) 12 month period between March 2020 and March 2021.
3. Reporting value:
The values of energy consumption for the different energy carriers and process steps have been reported in MWh for the total reference flow.
The CO2 process emissions have been reported in tonnes of process CO2 emitted for the total reference flow.
4. Energy conversion factors:
For the conversion of fuel sources (expressed e.g. in kg/tonne or Nm3/tonne) to kWh/tonne of fuel, site specific energy conversion factors have been used based on the lower calorific value (i.e. useful heat) provided by the supplier of the energy source.
5. Energy carrier:
SAI has calculated the CO2 footprint from the reported MWh and tonnage based on the specific energy carrier for each of the reported values. For this purpose, energy consumption data has been collected separately for each energy carrier (natural gas, electricity, and so on).
All data has been collected by SAI and kept confidential.
Results and Analysis
Pathway to Eliminate Carbon Emissions
SAI entered into a long-term renewable energy supply agreement with regional renewable energy power stations. Those power stations agreed to supply SAI’s Data center and crypto mining center with a 100% renewable energy supply.
In addition to its renewable power purchases, SAI is collaborating with the district heating company to develop heat recovery infrastructure. The goal of the heat recovery infrastructure is to recover excess heat from SAI’s data center and crypto mining centers and send the recycled heat back to the community. Energy will be recovered from SAI’s computing chips and upgraded by a newly constructed heat pump facility.
SAI prioritizes water stewardship across its operations and the many communities it serves. Its data centers are among the most water-efficient in the world. SAI invests in circular systems that reuse water as many times as possible before discharging it to wastewater treatment plants.
Carbon neutrality is achieved when emissions from a product, activity or a whole organization are netted off, either through the purchase of an equivalent number of offsets or through a combination of emissions reduction and offsetting. There are some carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated by using renewable energy only. Based on the Carbon Offset strategies proposed by CarbonTrust, SAI will take the following steps to buy needed carbon credits to indirectly offset the carbon emissions of SAI.
The Energy Structure
Buildings use more than one-third of the world’s energy, most energy is used for heating spaces and water. Most of this heat is generated by burning coal, natural gas, oil. And where these fossil fuels are consumed, greenhouse gas emissions are a given.
Electric Heat Pumps
Electric heat pumps, first widely used in the 1970s in Europe, could be the best solution to cut that fossil fuel use. They could slash the carbon emissions of buildings by half. A heat pump uses a compressor and refrigerant to move heat from one place to another. It can extract heat from outside air, even in the winter, and release it inside a house, basically like an air-conditioner running in reverse. But the pump is only suitable for the areas where are not very cold, and the cost of device is more expensive.
The Traditional Heating Flow
The traditional heating flow is shown as below. It involves many components in order to build up the whole system. It will generate massive carbon emissions during the production of those machines, pipes, etc. Also, considering about the transportation, maintenances charges, the traditional heating industry needs a brand-new revolution which can reduce the carbon emissions of the whole system and enable the whole society to reach to carbon neutrality in near future.
In the global latitude area of 40-45 degree, a 10,000KW heating boiling center can supply 200,000 square meters of heating required throughout the year. A 10,000KW crypto mining center also need massive energy inputs.
Build a heating boiling center and a crypto mining center.
Use SAICAB to build the crypto mining center and also collect the heat from the chips, power the heat to residents’ house, public facilities etc.
Hydro Power Peak Cut
A Complex Challenge of Renewable Energy
As more renewables come online, they create a tricky problem for grid operators. Since people cannot control how much sun shines or how much wind blows, there’s a constant risk of either too much or too little energy flow. When there’s too little, operators can compensate by firing up hydro or fossil fuel generators where are more reliable. But dealing with too much energy presents a complex challenge.
Bitcoin – a Better Overall Value Proposition
Bitcoin can be mined anywhere. Almost all energy used in the world must be relatively close to its end-user production, but Bitcoin does not have this restriction, which allows miners to utilize power that is not available to most other applications.
Miners could use bitcoin mining as a “profitable battery” to consume the idle electricity. bitcoin miners, on the other hand, are an ideal complementary technology for renewables and storage. Combining generation with both storage and miners presents a better overall value proposition than building generation and storage alone.
The plan, in other words, is to situate Bitcoin mining centers in places where renewable energy farms overproduce electricity during times of low demand and soak up that excess power for mining. The mine gets low-cost, zero-carbon power; the wind or solar farm gets a reliable big customer.
During water season, taking the hydropower plant as an example, 37.5% of the generated electricity will be wasted because it is over the capacity that required by the consumers. SAI built up a few assumptions to test how much carbon emissions can SAI reduces.
Hydropower abandonment + coal powered computing: The excess electricity that hydropower produced will be abandoned and the computing center will be powered by electricity generated by coal.
Hydropower storage + coal powered computing: The excess electricity that hydropower produced will be stored and the computing center will be powered by electricity generated by coal.
Hydropower powered computing: The excess electricity that hydropower produced will be used to power the computing center.
Associated Gas Electricity
Flue gases from fossil fuel-based electricity-generating units are the major concentrated CO2 sources worldwide. / Directly discharge the pollutants into air will cause massive carbon emissions.
Significant Source of Air Emissions
Natural gas is often produced as a by-product (i.e. associated gas) during oil extraction. If the oil project has been planned in a way that does not incorporate access to a gas market or other productive uses, then there are only a few options left for the gas: an operator must choose whether to use it onsite for its own operations, reinject it into the ground, flare it or vent it to the atmosphere.
In theory, more than 99% of the natural gas is combusted when flaring is done in optimal conditions. In real-world conditions, however, flaring can be significantly less efficient due to sub-optimal combustion dynamics (e.g. variable heat content, flame instability). As a result, substantial volumes of methane can be released along with black carbon and nitrous oxide – all potent GHGs.
There can be ways to use the gas productively even in the absence of such a connection.
For example, onshore operators in the United States have field-trialled a variety of flaring reduction technologies. Additionally, a study released by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition reported positive net present values and payback times of less than two years in six of eight flaring reduction projects in Columbia from 2017 to 2019.
It will be important to minimize the flow of new projects that might require flaring; this is a question of regulation and careful project selection and design. For existing sources of flaring, in the majority of cases the optimal solution to flaring is to extend the natural gas grid.
Associated gas burning + coal powered computing: The associated gases will be burned out and the computing center will be powered by electricity generated by coal.
Associated gas liquified + coal powered computing: The associated gases will be liquified and send to natural gas powers stations, and the computing center will be powered by electricity generated by coal.
Associated gas powered computing: The associated gases will be used to power the computing center onsite.
Summary: SAI’s Influence Power
SAI helps reduce global carbon emissions in the computing, energy and heating industries.
Any industry will cause huge carbon emissions to society. In the solution given by SAI, the three industries can reduce their carbon emissions and improve their energy efficiency.
The more the solutions offered by SAI are used, the more carbon emissions can be reduced, thereby SAI can achieve a carbon neutrality sooner than it expects.
UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now Initiative:
SAI joined the UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now (UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now, hereinafter referred to as the “Neutral Initiative”) launched by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
This global computing energy operator empowered by clean energy for high-performance chips has become the world’s first digital asset company to join the UNFCCC, and also the first in the industry to sign a commitment to the United Nations to reduce the cost by providing clean computing power. SAI is committed to reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by providing clean computing power.
The initiative is promoted and implemented by the secretariat of the UNFCCC, which provides scientific methods to reduce corporate carbon footprints and help achieve carbon neutrality. As of the end of 2020, there have been a number of contracted members including various enterprises, organizations, international and intergovernmental agencies, United Nations agencies, individuals, etc., covering multiple industries such as finance, technology, and engineering.
Organization of Clean Energy and Computing
In order to get more attention from its peers and lead to momentum changes by the industry, SAI found a non-profit membership association called OCEC (Organization of Clean Energy and Computing) and is currently open to applicants who want to join. Not only any organizations involved in cryptocurrency mining and energy industries are welcomed, but OCEC also welcomes the media companies, research institutes, public to participate.
Benefits of joining OCEC:
All members of OCEC have the right to reach to a number of resources, including connections with clean energy suppliers, technical guidance for the transformation of traditional thermal power mines in order to reduce their carbon emissions, etc. The members who use clean energy to power its mining centers will be promoted by OCEC through all its channels.
Conclusion and Prospects
SAI’s development philosophy has always been to do its best to make contributions to society. As the first company in the industry to publish a carbon footprint report, SAI wants to set an example and lead other companies in the industry to make changes and contribute their efforts to promote carbon neutrality for the entire society.
According to SAI’s carbon footprint report, the electricity used for powering the chips mainly contributed to SAI’s carbon emissions. China electricity is expected to decarbonize over time due to strong national policies, as part of the 2060 carbon neutral target. By 2030, renewables are expected to be 50% of the energy mix, 12% higher than today. Also, SAI can move its SAICAB to anywhere where the power plants are located, which means SAI can use up to 100% renewable energy to power its crypto mining and supercomputing chips. It will make SAI’s total carbon emissions reach less than 1000 tons of Carbon Dioxide (equivalent) per year. SAI can simply buy carbon credits to offset the emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.
More importantly, SAI’s innovative technologies can help reduce carbon emissions from different aspects.
For the heating industry, the electricity used by the chips counts for 90% of the total electricity consumed in our crypto mining and supercomputing centers. 90% of the heat generated by the chips was collected and reuse for central heating of residential houses, farms, public facilities, etc.
This allows customers to reduce the cost of computing power and heating power by about 35% while effectively reducing the power supporting investment, realizing a clean computing power solution.
For renewable energy peak cut, SAICAB can be used as a “profitable” battery to consume idle electricity. bitcoin miners, on the other hand, are an ideal complementary technology for renewables and storage. Combining generation with both storage and miners presents a better overall value proposition than building generation and storage alone.
For flue gases, directly polluting the gases into the air will cause great damage to the earth’s environment. In a traditional setup, a significant portion of the energy contained in the blast-furnace gas goes unutilized: tremendous amounts of pressure and heat are wasted when the stream of gas hits a simple throttling group that reduces pressure to values suitable for the low-pressure gas network. By using the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology and turbines to reuse the wasted gases, SAI can use the energy to power its SAICAB, thereby reduce the carbon emissions and also supply the heat to the residents houses, farms, and other public facilities.
The power of a person and a company is small. SAI has actively participated in many international organizations and initiatives to provide solutions to the global climate crisis. As the first company in the crypto mining industry who joined the UNFCCC Climate Neutral Now initiative, SAI is using its influence to lead other peers to make changes together. As the founder of OCEC, SAI is expected to lead OCEC to contribute a long-term impact on the four dimensions of environment, energy, economy, and society. In the environmental dimension, the negative impact of cryptocurrency mining and related activities on human and environmental health can be reduced. The energy dimension is to increase the diversity of energy measurement for cryptocurrency mining and increase the use of clean energy. In the economic dimension, the goal is to demonstrate the inherent benefits that the OCEC brings to cryptocurrency miners and related organizations, especially the economic profitability. The social goal is to have a greater influence on a global scale, promote more global knowledge exchanges about clean computing power, and improve the traceability of clean computing power.
While the world will need to reach net-zero, those who can afford to move faster and go further should do so.
SAI makes world better.