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William Shatner’s new enterprise: A solar-powered bitcoin mining farm in southern Illinois

aptain Kirk might be able to discuss the properties of dilithium crystals and give directions to Rigel XII, but don’t ask him to explain bitcoin.

“The concept is so, I guess the word is bizarre,” Kirk’s alter ego, William Shatner, said by phone Wednesday. “You have to blank your mind and say, ‘What is blockchain, again? How does mining operate, again?’ The concepts are really strange, and yet when you begin to grasp it, it makes sense.”

Shatner is the spokesman for Solar Alliance, a Vancouver-based developer of alternative energy projects that announced plans to build a solar-powered Bitcoin mining operation in an abandoned southern Illinois factory.

Bitcoin mining harnesses computer networks to validate and record transactions that use the virtual currency, a task for which “miners” are paid in bitcoin (a single unit was going for more than $6,200 Wednesday). The process requires huge amounts of electricity, and that’s where Solar Alliance CEO Jason Bak saw an opportunity.

He said Illinois’ policy of requiring utility companies to buy renewable energy made the project economically feasible. It also didn’t hurt that the mayor of Murphysboro, Will Stephens, offered the company a 165,000-square-foot former label-making factory that has been vacant since 2004.

Bak said the project will involve the creation of a huge solar array on the factory’s 14-acre parcel. The space inside the building will be leased to bitcoin mining companies, he said, with some reserved for a training center that will teach solar panel installation.

He hoped to have some tenants lined up by the end of the year, though he didn’t know when the solar array will be finished.

Stephens said his town of 8,000, perched just west of Carbondale, is in need of an economic boost. Some microbreweries and tourist ventures have opened, he said, “but we, like a lot of Middle America, have seen job losses because of a change in the worldwide economy.”

Virtual currencies have plenty of skeptics — famed investor Warren Buffett recently referred to them as “probably rat poison squared” — but Stephens said he didn’t fear that the venture, which is supposed to be partially funded by a TIF district, would be a bust.

Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology, essentially a massive digital ledger on which transactions are securely recorded, is being adopted by all sorts of industries, he said, so a solar-powered computing center could still be valuable even if cryptocurrencies fade.

“From my perspective, we’re going to have someone who will occupy a previously derelict property, and whatever development comes out of it will just make it more marketable if the project is not successful,” he said.

Shatner, who got involved with Solar Alliance after it installed the solar panels on his California home, said he might check out the mining operation in person once it’s operational.

“I’m in Chicago a lot, and I live in Kentucky part of the time,” he said. “I might very well do that. It’s an interesting idea to see it at work because … it’s so esoteric that it’s difficult to understand.”

 

Bitcoin

Bitcoin [BTC] Price Crosses $10,200 As There Are More Inflows to Exchanges


There are more inflows than outflows at the top seven leading cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance, BitMex, and OKEx, according to statistics from Token Analyst.

On average, $47.2 million was deposited and $44.9 million withdrawn on Feb 18, 2020.

Crypto Markets Correction

The revelation is a relief for the crypto market.

From price charts, it appears as if bulls are exhausted following parabolic rallies that saw the value of some digital assets like Ethereum Classic, Ethereum, and Tezos post impressive gains, pushing them to a new valuation.

Ethereum Classic, for instance, nearly tripled, soaring to around $3.5 in Q4 2019 to $11 in Jan 2020.

Similarly, Tezos (XTZ) boosted by new developments and heavy involvement from the French—including a research team with links to the government working on Tenderbake, and French Army and the Information & Public Relations Center (SIRPA), soared to new all-time highs.

Tezos XTZ Market Performance
Tezos XTZ Market Performance | source: Coinstats.app

Other altcoins posted extra-ordinary performances as well thanks in part to a bullish Bitcoin which for the first time in 2020 broke above $10,000. The level is an important resistance level.

Traders are Bullish

The inflow of new cash into the crypto market is definitely a mark of confidence. It also shows that market participants, despite the recent lull, are bullish of what lies ahead.

Specifically, the buzz around Bitcoin halving is creating an aura of expectation. Previous events saw prices rally in subsequent months.

However, compared to leaps made in recent years, this year’s halving could either thrust BTC prices to new highs, or see price flat-line before dropping even if demand is constant, or even higher.

Bitcoin Halving: will Price Drop or Rally after May 2020

Debate around post-Bitcoin halving price trajectory varies.

Bitcoin BTC Halving
Bitcoin BTC Halving

Some analysts and crypto commentators are expectant that more gains are in the pipeline because market forces are yet to price in BTC’s forthcoming rally.

Yet some are adamant that the rally to $10,500 marks the tipping point of BTC prices. Subsequent sessions, they believe, would see prices crumble.

US Plans to Regulate Cryptocurrencies

The optimism also comes when US government officials plan to draft laws that would shield the USD hegemony and discourage the use of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin—partly because of its popularity, and privacy coins like Monero.

The contention is that privacy coin mixers and obfuscation of transactions are illegal.

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Bitcoin’s golden cross changes everything for the 2020 rally

Bitcoin’s stay under $10,000 was short-lived as it picked up momentum on 17th Feb. The valuation witnessed a 6.07 percent surge, and Bitcoin re-entered the $10,000 range. Over the past 24 hours, BTC registered a 4.02 percent uptick and the current market cap remained at $184 billion.

Source: Coinstats

Bitcoin 1-day chart

BTC/USD on Trading View

The 1-day chart of Bitcoin has been evidently bullish since the turn of the year after the price broke out from a falling wedge pattern. The pattern started taking shape toward the end of November and a bullish breakout surfaced in the 3rd week of December. After the breakout, Bitcoin has periodically risen from $7000 to $10,000.

Until now, the bullish surge of Bitcoin has been expected to exhibit some form of correction, but besides minor dips, nothing has really impacted its rise.

At press time, Bitcoin held consolidation just under the resistance at $10265, with immediate support at $9800. However, Bitcoin may continue to progress upward now, since the highly anticipated golden cross has taken shape.

The last golden cross took place on 23rd April 2019. The positive turnaround after the cross-over was significant, as Bitcoin experienced a 164.43 percent rise, reaching last year’s ATH at $13,880. A repeat of such a trend would easily take Bitcoin above its all-time-high at $20,000.

According to VPVR indicator, trading volume at $10,200 has been strong over the past year which indicated that Bitcoin may consolidate in his range over the next week. RSI also pictured a bullish incline since the start of December.

Bitcoin 4-hour chart

BTC/USD on Trading View

Analyzing the 4-hour chart of Bitcoin may give a clear indication of Bitcoin’s trading range over the next few weeks. Bitcoin’s correction on 15th February can be observed in the 4-hour chart, which transpired after the formation of a rising wedge pattern. As mentioned earlier, Bitcoin managed to recover quickly and it rose back above the $10,000 range.

If Bitcoin manages to trade above $10,265 resistance and consolidate near the $10,700 range, the possibility of a bullish rise to $11,500 could be very much on the cards.

Consolidation below $10,200 may open doors for another correction. With the completion of the golden cross, that situation seems less likely.

Conclusion

The completion of a golden cross is a positive bullish sign, which may take Bitcoin well beyond the $11,000 range over the next few weeks. With the ‘FOMO’ kicking in after the golden cross, the next few days would decide Bitcoin’s long-term price movement until the halving.

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Bitcoin Supply Distribution Increased by 33 Percent in the Past Decade

The supply of Bitcoin has naturally dispersed over time. Thanks to a wide variety of factors, such as increasing demand for BTC. The use of Bitcoin in payments and remittances has also had an effect. As more people have been able to get their hands on the asset, and as supply levels change, volumes do as well. 

However, it would seem that the extent to which this change has occurred is beginning to gain steam. While Bitcoin and other cryptos are often held by whales, their influence is now dwindling.

Less Bitcoin for Larger Exchanges 

Earlier this week, CoinMetrics, a data provider for the crypto space, published its State of the Network report for Bitcoin. The report revealed the volume of Bitcoin held by larger addresses had dropped significantly over the past decade. 

In the report, the firm explained that “larger addresses’’ were taken to mean cryptocurrency wallet addresses that have more than a thousandth of the total supply of Bitcoin. Current data from Blockchain shows that there are 18.22 million BTC (worth about $184 billion at current prices) available in supply. This is out of a possible 21 million Bitcoins. For an address to be considered a “large address” by CoinMetrics’ estimates, it needs to contain 18,220 BTC (worth about $184 million), according to the data provider. 

The report goes on to show that the volume of Bitcoin held by these addresses was 33 percent as of February 2011. Today, that number has dropped to 11 percent. The report also revealed that smaller addresses held more of the Bitcoin in circulation. This means that individuals Bitcoin users have been on the rise, contrary to public opinion.

In part, the report also touched on Tether, the most valuable stablecoin. CoinMetrics explained that Tether had seen a surge in its distribution as well, thus positing that the asset could see increasing use as a medium of exchange. The company also opined that this could be the most significant reason why supply was flowing more to the smaller wallets. 

Ether Still Has a Long Way to Go 

The state of Bitcoin is different from that of its biggest competitor, Ether. Last May, Chainalysis published a blog post titled the Economic Impact of Whales on the Market. At the time, the blockchain analysis firm explained that “whales:” were the top 50 shareholders within the global crypto space- with the exclusion of exchanges, wallet providers, and other asset custodial services. 

The report eventually showed that there were 124 services as part of the top 500 ETH holders, while the remaining 376 were “individual whales.” These whales were also said to be in control of 33 percent of Ether’s entire supply- although the number was markedly lower than the 47 percent reported in 2016. 

The report also explained that these individual Ether whales accounted for just 7 percent of the asset’s economic activity. As Chainalysis explained, most of these whales are hodlers, not traders.

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