Twitter Spaces: Bitcoin and Solar: A Perfect Fit with Benoy Thanjan
Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy joins Logan Chipkin to discuss Bitcoin, solar energy, and how the two industries can help each other.
Link to Audio: https://twitter.com/i/spaces/1kvJpmVmoygxE?s=20
Logan Chipkin (00:17):
Hey, how's everyone doing? Can I geta thumbs up while we're waiting for Benno? Excellent Ecology huddle. I love it.Danny, hope you're doing well, Dr. Noble, Zito. Hope I'm saying that correctly.Hope you're having a good day so far. <affirmative> Good. Chris, welcomeDr. Noble, I see you requested to speak. Um, why don't I, uh, speak with Benoyfor a little while, but, um, happy to bring you on stage after we get going, ifthat's okay with you. All right. I'm sure Benno will be joining shortly. Hey,Benno. Uh, okay, so I just got your email. I see you're logged in as alistener. Uh, could you, I'm not sure which one you are. Would you be able to,uh, yeah. One second. One second. Yes, I see you, but I don't know which one.Mm. Could you pl Ben, can you please, uh, request to speak? Sorry, everyone,we're just working through some technical difficulties. Hey, Benno, I see younow. Great. All right. Hey, Benno. Hey, Mike. Uh, it's still connecting. Uh,Benoy. Okay, now you're on mute, but you're definitely, uh, up on stage as aspeaker. <laugh>
Speaker 2 (09:41):
Benoy Thanjan (09:42):
Can, can you hear me,
Logan Chipkin (09:43):
Logan? Yes, sir. Can you hear me?
Benoy Thanjan (09:47):
Yeah, I apologize for the technicaldifficulties, I guess connect on your my desktop, but on my at work. Yeah, Iappreciate.
Logan Chipkin (09:56):
No worries, no worries. So let's goahead and get started. Um, it's just you and me today. Kent and Will areunavailable, but they both send their regards and, um, anyway, having saidthat, my name is Logan Chikin. I'm content manager for SA Mining. I have a longcareer in writing all sorts of stuff for all sorts of different people. And nowI have the great pleasure of writing about all things renewable energy,Bitcoin, bitcoin mining, and their intersection for SaaS mining. And todaywe're joined by one of SaaS Mining's advisors. Uh, in fact, without Benoy SaaSmining as we know, it might not even exist. So, with that, uh, before we getinto kind of the context talk, Benoy, do you wanna maybe introduce yourself andmaybe elaborate if you want on what exactly I mean by that?
Benoy Thanjan (10:40):
For sure. So, my name is Benno Thein.I am the CEO and founder of Renew Energy. We're a solar developer andconsulting firm. We've been business for 10 years. A little bit about mybackground, before I started, uh, my company, I worked at Tesla Solar City andtheir project finance group, I worked for another solar developer, uh, doingproject finance, a private equity firm that invested in renewable energyprojects. And then I worked at Deloitte in the financial advisory practice. SoI have about 13 to 15. It's, uh, now that I think about, it's been 15 years ofrenewable energy experience, which in a very new industry like solar, just likecrypto, um, is, you know, is a lot of experience in the space. I also have, uh,one of the most popular podcasts in solar. It's called the Solar Maverickpodcast. And how, you know, I knew about crypto mining, but I really didn'tknow in detail. Um, you know, I knew that it could be more efficient usage ofenergy, but one, what ended up happening was I started getting a lot of miners,including SA Mining, listening to the podcast and them reaching out to meabout, uh, mining projects that they were looking to do and incorporatingrenewable energy. And that's how I actually met, uh, William from SA Mining washe, uh, was listening to our podcast to learn about solar, and he had me on hispodcast and, um, I then had him on my podcast.
Logan Chipkin (12:28):
Yeah, that's great stuff. Um, soBenoy, I wonder, you said you've had a long career in solar. When and how didyou first get interested in solar energy? Uh, can't hear you if you're speaking
Benoy Thanjan (12:50):
Projects. Um, oh, can you hear me orno, Logan?
Logan Chipkin (12:57):
Yeah, now I, now I can, you droppedout for the last, uh, maybe 15 seconds or so. Oh,
Benoy Thanjan (13:01):
Okay. I think someone was calling inand then for some reason, but what I was basically saying was from the SolarMaverick podcast was actually how Kent Halliburton joined as c o o of SaMining, which is, um, obviously Logan and, and Will's company, wills the c e oand founder. And they basically changed the model from basically doing, uh,crypto, sorry, crypto mining consulting to basically creating a platform, youcould think of it as Uber, where they basically bring Bitcoin mining projectsusing renewable energy and then basically investors to those projects. And Ithink, Logan, you could correct me if I'm wrong, I think right now on theplatform, there's probably two or three, uh, projects that are actively lookingfor rigs. And, uh, so it's amazing. Like you never know what could happen in anintroduction. And I'm glad that it really worked out for SAS mining. Kentactually talks about this on, uh, one of the episodes of the Solar Maverickpodcast. And it's just crazy from that interview with Kent that came out a fewmonths ago, we're even getting more people in the crypto and bitcoin world, uh,reaching out just because everyone wants to kind of learn about thisintersection between renewable energy and crypto specifically, you know, solarenergy.
Logan Chipkin (14:25):
Yeah, absolutely. Um, we like to talkabout how 2022 was really the year that all of the conversations around theconvergence between energy and Bitcoin really came onto the map, and we're veryexcited to kind of be the, as you say, kinda like the retail uber arm ofexactly that convergence, if you like. So, uh, benno, you, you said that youspent several years in solar. I'm wonder, um, when and how did you interested,because Solar's really changed in the last 15 years.
Benoy Thanjan (14:55):
Yeah, it's really amazing how solarhas changed. And honestly, the time that I got into the solar industry, a lotof people weren't sure whether solar was really a viable industry. Um, so backin, I think it might be, I'm trying to remember the year I worked for aprivate, so I had an energy background outta school. I worked for Deloitte intheir energy group, and then I worked at a private equity fund where I analyzedinvestments in renewable energy. It wasn't solar, it was hydro biomass,landfill gas. But then I did, started doing all these risk research on solarand I thought that solar was gonna be a game changer and change the way we useelectricity just like now, not to bore people, but to me I find it veryinteresting was like before power was very centralized. You had a basically apower plant, and then it goes through transmission, distribution, grid to the,and customer here's like a distributed model where basically you could createsolar on your roof and use that electricity instantaneously.
And that creates reliability, uh,better reliability of the grid, especially when you're talking about an aginginfrastructure. And uh, that was back in 2008, so that was like 15 years ago. Iwas telling everyone how solar was gonna be the next big thing. Most people<laugh> wrote me off as like, I don't know, you don't know what you'retalking about, but the key thing about solar is it's a technology. So as timegoes on, the output of the solar panels have gone exponentially and the costhas decreased substantially, which I thought was gonna happen. Things arehappening a lot faster than I thought it was back then, but it's funny, allthese people now come back to me like, you are right. You know, you did allthat research and it is true that solar is gonna be basically a, a game changerfor not just crypto mining, but how we use energy in the future. And it allowsus to be energy independent. And that was the primary reason why I got intosolar because, you know, there are so many wars that the US has had for oil,and I thought there has to be a better way. And I thought solar could be thatway. And, you know, multiple different technologies incorporating that. Likewe're talking about mining, but ev charging infrastructure microgrids. So it'sa pretty exciting, you know, time to be in the industry and it's growingexponentially and it's still very early in the solar space.
Logan Chipkin (17:39):
Yeah, it's definitely still early.Um, and you had alluded to kind of the parallels between the Bitcoin ecosystemand the solar ecosystem. They're both early, they're both on e exponentialgrowth trajectories. So where does renewal, uh, renew energy fit into the solarecosystem?
Benoy Thanjan (17:56):
Sure. So, uh, we develop commercial,industrial and utility scale projects. Uh, we focus on large rooftops preprimarily in the northeast mid-Atlantic that are 58,000 square feet or greater.We just actually have an office as well in San Diego where we're doing that inCalifornia. Uh, we're a big developer of community solar. That's where it'ssmaller utility scale projects that's usually around five megawatts AC or 7.5megawatts dc but that's around like, uh, 35 acres of land. Then you have solaron it. And, uh, these projects are highly profitable because you're taking a retailofftaker, which is usually like a, a, you know, a residential customer who'spaying 15 to 17 cents for their electricity and providing them a discountversus, um, selling it to the utility and they're paying, you know, two to 3cents per kilowatt hour. So, you know, that's, we're one of the biggerdevelopers in the Northeast. We are also very involved in Rex Renewable Energycredits, which is an incentive that states have created to incentivize solar.Um, I started Solar City as environmental trading desk, solar City slash Tesla,uh, trading desk and project finance. I come from a finance background, but um,you know, our primary business is really developing, uh, community solar andutility scale solar projects.
Logan Chipkin (19:29):
So you said earlier that solar costcurves have been going down. So I'm just curious, would renew, renew Energy'sbusiness model have been viable 15 years ago when you started? Or is this kindof, are you able to operate thanks to the innovations that have occurred in thesolar space since you started?
Benoy Thanjan (19:49):
So back then, inserted markets, solarmade sense. Like for example, um, there was a cash grant for solar at 30% andat the time New Jersey had it a strong incentive, which is called a solarrenewable energy credit, which at the time was basically they had it reallyhigh and it was basically going down over time. Just to give you an, I likeback in 2008, 2010, um, we were talking about uh, like 400 or 40 cents to 50cents per kilowatt hour incentive. And then the cost of the panel in solar, weuse dollar per watt DC So just to give idea like, like between four to $5 for apanel. And now you could get a panel for 35 cents per that shows youdramatically, the costs have gone down as like costs have gone down andefficiencies of the panels have improved. What we've seen is that the, uh,incentives by the different states have been going down, for example, NewJersey, which is, you know, where we're based in actually Jersey City, NewJersey.
Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and SanDiego, California, like now the incentives basically 12.50 cents per kilowatthour versus 50 cents per kilowatt hour back then. So at that time, like it wasa lot harder to make projects pencil. The reason why the Northeast people werelike, why New Jersey? Like, there's not a lot of sun, but why worked at thattime was, was the northeast has high electricity rates and not maybe the samesolar or radiance or sunlight as you could potentially get in parts of thecountry, but then the incentive was so high, high that made it worthwhile to,to develop solar.
Logan Chipkin (21:48):
Got it. Uh, yeah, every, by the way,every time you say New Jersey, it's kind of music to my ears cuz that's whereI'm from. But anyway, I digress.
Benoy Thanjan (21:55):
Um, oh, I didn't realize
Logan Chipkin (21:57):
<laugh>. Yeah, I I'm from southJersey though, uh, and now I live in Philly. But anyway, enough about me. Um,so I wonder, could you tell us maybe aside from, you know, you're talkingabout, uh, efficiency gains and cost curves falling, uh, what kind of coolconcrete innovations occurred in the solar industry since you started? Um, likeany gizmos or gadgets or tech, like technological capabilities that weren'taround 15 years ago
Benoy Thanjan (22:23):
And there's so many technologies thatinnovated the industry. I think, uh, one of the biggest ones that we're seeingis bi facial tunnels where basically you could absorb energy from both sides ofthe panel. The other thing are tracking systems where, you know, solar panelsare on a, on either like, uh, round mounted system, but now the, there's atractor where they basically, the panels will follow the sun. So that'sincreased. Uh, the, you know, the, um, solar output. I've talked about cost ofthe panel, the efficiency of the panel, but it's also too like a lot of thegunner to construct like it's plug and play. Other thing too is electricalshave revolutionized, I'm biased because I used to work for Tesla Solar City andI used to work for, uh, Lyndon r who was the CEO O of Solar City, who's, uh,Elon's cousin that I've met Elon.
So like I've had experience withelectric vehicles for now 15 years, Tesla's early sort of, uh, electricvehicles. And it's just amazing how it's now gone mainstream. And what we foundis that once, um, once someone buys an electric vehicle, they normally wouldwant solar on their house. So it's a lot cheaper from a charging perperspective. So that's also increased the adoption, just the proliferation ofelectric vehicles is allowing, you know, more solar to be developed. And it'salso educating the customer too. So what we found too is like, um, Google Nest,which educates people about energy usage, then they started to say, Hey, wewant like more renewable or sustainable options. So it's interesting, um, aslike the gen generation seems more, um, attune with renewable energy andsustainability and it being an important feature for them when they, you know,buy a product. So I think there's so different things, but those are the majorones that I could think of.
Logan Chipkin (24:36):
Yeah, it's uh, it's interesting yousay when people start driving electric, they become more comfortable withsolar. It reminds me a lot of, uh, even in Bitcoin, you know, people startbuying Bitcoin on an exchange. They might get more comfortable with a coldwallet, that sort of thing. So that's a nice parallel. Um, I wonder so
Benoy Thanjan (24:53):
That's true. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Good
Logan Chipkin (24:54):
Point. Um, aside from the technology,uh, and you mentioned a little bit how younger people are more, uh, amenable tosolar than maybe older generations. Have you noticed any cultural shifts aroundsolar, whether just in the United States or more broadly
Benoy Thanjan (25:13):
Logan Chipkin (25:13):
Yeah, and then like public perceptionof solar.
Benoy Thanjan (25:16):
Oh, so you know, one thing, like fora very long time when I would meet with customers, meaning like commercialindustrial landowners, it was a very long education process because they werenot comfortable with solar. They heard that solar was just too expensive, thatit didn't make sense. What's amazing that's happened the past two years is nowI don't have to educate really as much. It's really a lot of people understandthe value proposition with solar, which is great because that means thatthere'll be more adoption. And I think you see that with crypto as well. Ithink there's still a large, uh, majority of the population that still doesn'tunderstand it and doesn't understand like why it's necessary. And, um, youknow, it's kind of interesting to me, and I was mentioning this to Will, who'sthe c o of SA mining that solar's just a few years earlier than crypto.
And the same things that we're seeingin solar are happening in crypto. It's almost like two different industries,but history is kind of repeating itself. And the other thing too, both thetechnologies are kind of are interrelated, right? Because obviously, uh,Bitcoin uses a lot of energy for mining. You want it to be assist from asustainable renewable resource, solar as an ideal technology to be able to dothat. And, uh, yeah. And you know, we, we started, you know, helping, you know,miners with trying to develop, uh, solar projects with mining facilities. It'sstill all very in the early stages, but there's a huge opportunity goingforward where these projects are gonna be developed together or currentcurrently on the same land site or even commercial site.
Logan Chipkin (27:11):
Yeah, absolutely. And we've spokenwith, uh, previous guests in the solar industry who are actively, um, lookingfor such opportunities and, uh, yeah, I've learned some interesting thingsabout kind of how the solar industry perceives Bitcoin, and we can talk aboutthat in a little bit. But just to round out Sure. The solar proper discussion,um, is there anything you can tell us that's exciting on, um, renew Energy'shorizon that's coming up down the pipe?
Benoy Thanjan (27:37):
I mean, there's so many differentthings. Um, literally since the war happened in Ukraine and the Anti InflationAct that's been passed by, uh, and signed by the President Congress, uh, thatlegislation has created so much opportunity for renewable energy in the future.Specifically solar, where the, where the United States is gonna be, uh,potentially the number one country for solar adoption and renewable energy, andalso bring a lot of manufacturing onshore to the us. And also too, like Ithink, um, when the war in Ukraine happened, uh, you know, natural gas and oilwent up and that what, and what that what that caused was higher electricityprices. And once that happened, because, um, natural gas basically impacts theelectricity price in the US because most, um, generation is from natural gasplants. So if the price goes up of natural gas, electricity will therefore goup as well.
Honestly, like prices of electricityin the US haven't gone up in a very long time. And then once it's spikedbecause of the Ukraine war, um, that just made solar an easier sell to a lot ofour customers and everyone wanted to move, you know, very quickly. So that'slike another a And then also too, just companies being aware, uh, and, youknow, really focusing on renewable energy, sustainability and E S G efforts arethe, those are the exciting things that are happening. The industry that'sleading to exponential growth that we're gonna see for easily another 30 to 50to 60 years. Solar only makes less than 10, I think it's only five to 6% of thegeneration of the us. So there's still a lot more, um, going in the future andstill early in the industry.
Logan Chipkin (29:45):
Yeah, you know, you bring up a goodpoint about the Ukraine, Russias war or whatever the, however you wanna phraseit. Um, and I think that's kind of a special case of a broader phenomenon ofgeopolitical units seeking more independence. And this goes to your earlierpoint about, um, how solar is a decentralizing, um, energy source. And I, Iwonder if there's a connection there that as people say, Hey, you know what,maybe we shouldn't be so dependent on other, uh, political powers. I wonder ifthat's gonna be a, a wind in solar sales. I don't know if you've thought aboutthat sort of thing.
Benoy Thanjan (30:17):
I have thought about that and it'sinteresting because I think that's true. The other thing too, this goes back tocrypto and Bitcoin, like what about decentralized currency?
Logan Chipkin (30:28):
Benoy Thanjan (30:28):
Especially with everything that'shappening. Like I think, you know, what was interesting? So I went with Williamto the blockchain conference in Asia where we were meeting with investors forSaaS mining. And it's interesting because in the US we're so used to using thedollar, but when you go to other countries, they're a lot more familiar withusing, you know, cryptocurrencies and specifically Bitcoin because of, you know,um, their, the, their currency not being the fiat currency, hyperinflation orother things that people are diversifying the currency are not dependent ondollars. So it's really interesting because like, I think that was like agreat, I couldn't believe how, how big like blockchaining specificallycryptocurrencies are in other parts of, of the world, but when you're in the USyou don't necessarily see that.
Logan Chipkin (31:28):
Yeah. That's, uh, Alex Gladsteinreally touches on this point in his book, uh, I think it's called Check YourFinancial Privilege. I, I finished it recently. Um, and I think it's a reallypowerful argument. Um, and now we can kind of transition into Bitcoin is that,like you say, you know, in the western world, and especially in America, wehave no concept. Like, you know, people say, oh, Bitcoin has no use case, it'sjust a waste of energy and this sort of thing. Because we take for granted thatinflation's going to be relatively low. We don't really live in an oppressivemonetary regime, but in other countries, Bitcoin is already digital gold old.
Benoy Thanjan (32:04):
Logan Chipkin (32:04):
So when did you first
Benoy Thanjan (32:06):
No, for sure.
Logan Chipkin (32:06):
When did you first hear about Bitcoinand um, how long did it take? Or rather like what was the light bulb moment foryou? No pun intended, that Bitcoin and Solar might have some sort of synergy.
Benoy Thanjan (32:19):
Yeah, so I, um, had an energy client.So with Renew Energy, we, one of our first clients, we were helping themdevelop renewable energy projects and they started, um, uh, sort of a propcryptocurrency firm that I, they asked me to be an early stage investor. Atthat time, I didn't really understand crypto that well. I think it was like2015 six, or I could be wrong with the year 17, but literally, um, I've, youknow, I've known and be become close friends with the, the c e o of thiscompany. And then he told me, Hey, but I, like, one time we met up actually fordrinks in the city, maybe this was 2018 or 19, he said, Hey, just put money inBitcoin and Ethereum and you, you know, you don't have to watch it. And overtime, like it'll go up. And it did obviously it, you know, like it went up to,to 44,000 hour, you know, obviously what down to 12,000.
Then I think now, correct me if I'mwrong, Logan, it's that 21 to 22,000. So that was like, you know, for me, likeI'm always analyzing different investment opportunities outside of solar, youknow, the, the use case for, for Bitcoin and why you should invest. It reallymade a lot of sense to me. Um, and I, I invested back then, so I was very awareof like cryptocurrency, which might be early for most people, but I wish Iinvested earlier than I did at that time. But really it was from the podcast,um, the Solar Maverick podcast, which I have, you could find all the majorplatforms. I was just surprised how many, uh, people in crypto were reachingout with questions that they had. And that really like led me to think likethere had be an opportunity with, you know, using solar energy or renewableforms of energy for, uh, for crypto mining.
And it makes sense like in thefuture. So that's maybe I was aware of that maybe right before Covid, so maybethat's like three years ago. And then, you know, obviously I've met SAS miningand you know, we both Logan, were at Bitcoin 2022, which I learned, you know, alot from that experience. And winning the Bitcoin Bronco as a solar guy, Ithink surprised a lot of people in the industry. Uh, so yeah, that's kind ofhow like the progression and things kind of happen and, you know, I'm still hasso much to learn, you know, like honestly, like Will and Kent and you and therest of the SaaS mining team have done a great job of like educating me on thecrypto part more than like, the solar to me is like, I've been doing it for solong mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but really like crypto still kind of, I thinkI'm probably more advanced than a lot of people are. Um, and it, but at thesame time, I feel like I still have so much to learn.
Speaker 4 (35:25):
Oh, sure. And I think that's theright attitude, um, especially with such a new technology. And you know, it'sfunny you say, you know, not, not that you said it this way, but you'rebasically, of course, an expert in solar and Bitcoin and this sort of thing.You're still learning. I if I may sort of feel the opposite, or at least likecoming into sas minings, like I know Bitcoin pretty well, but I'm down to learnsolar and other renewables. So, and you know, Ken's been doing a great jobmentoring me and that sort of thing, and I'm glad our content is, uh, I've, I'mglad you find it educational. Um, so I'm wonder, do you ever hear the typicalener uh, energy and environmental criticisms of Bitcoin? And if so, what do youthink of those
Benoy Thanjan (36:02):
<laugh>? I hear about it allthe time. I hear that, uh, uh, you know, crypto is not real. It's a sham. Um,you know, obviously people comp complain about the energy usage. It's honestly,it's mainstream media that I tend to hear that from, not from people who reallyknow about what crypto is and, uh, what it's the purpose is. And I think likeif you ever talk to Ken about what's the purpose of Bitcoin, he summarizes itlike so well, um, of why, why you need it. And, uh, but yeah, I'm surprisedstill after all, well, I guess it's not that much time. I feel like mainstreammedia just, um, unfortunately likes to, uh, say negative things about. And thenobviously like, you know, when things happen in the industry, especially whenit's bad, it's tended to, um, dominate the headlines. So, but you know, mostlike sophisticated and educated investors that I speak to really truly believein Bitcoin and it as an asset class that you have to invest in and diversify.So, um, you know, I only pay attention to the smart money most of the time.
Speaker 4 (37:23):
So yeah, I mean, I'm sort ofpatiently waiting for the narrative that Bitcoin actually helps make renewableenergy sources profitable. I'm waiting for that to become mainstream.
Benoy Thanjan (37:33):
Oh yeah. So that's actually thesurprising thing to me. So, you know, um, I think the great thing with, and bythe way, Logan, like, correct me mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like, you know,on mining and, and solar, it makes so much sense. Effectively you have abattery that you could use a lot more than a battery. Correct. And then theother thing too is you have a value on that, you know, essentially producingBitcoin and then obviously the cost to operate at the mining facility. So it'sa lot easier to value, um, the project than having a, a standard energy storageproject because you need sophisticated software to, and you know, the utilityhas to figure out like time of use and how to compensate you based on thatcapacity. Like this is just so much simpler. Yep. Surprisingly in the solarworld, like not a lot of people are looking at this.
And when I've come out with the theabout solar and Bitcoin, a lot of people are are like, this is the onlymaterial like I could find about this, where the solar industry's actuallytalking about it. I haven't seen like much content, you know, surprisingly likethe solar industry, even though it's a brand new industry, everyone tends tofollow the same sort of thing, you know, and they're not really like thinkingof things like crypto could basically disrupt the solar industry. Like why doyou have to tie into the grid if you have like a minor or a mining facilitythat could take all that electricity, then you don't have to be close to likethree phase power or interconnection costs don't matter at that point. So it'sinteresting because like we're dealing with this now with develop helping, uh,bitcoin miners develop in projects.
The other thing too is like, um, youknow, the solar community is like very stuck on like, it has to be an investmentgrade offtake. So we can't do crypto mining, but why don't we start off withlike any excess electricity using it for mining or I think eventually it'sgonna happen in the near future. You're gonna have like a group of investorsthat are comfortable with mining being a hundred percent of the offtake fromthe solar project. It's just a matter of time and matter of fi finding thatsophisticated investor that understands the value add and what I just spokeabout.
Speaker 4 (40:07):
Yeah. And another benefit from mykind of bitcoin maxi perspective is, um, solar providers and other renewablestoo. Um, will, they don't even have to be kind of ideologically aligned with methat, you know, my thesis would be we need Bitcoin as a global reserve asset.They don't even need to be aligned to see Bitcoin mining as such a powerful,uh, fuel for their business model. As you say, it's better than a battery. Sothey're like, okay, well I don't really care about like the purpose of Bitcoin,I just know that they're a buyer of first or last resort, whatever I need. Andthat to me is very exciting.
Benoy Thanjan (40:43):
Yeah, that definitely is. That's a agreat point, Logan, and I appreciate you, you know, talking about that and moredepth and because I think that's a real opportunity that I don't think a lot ofpeople understand, surprisingly.
Speaker 4 (40:58):
Yeah, yeah. Um, we spoke with, uh,someone on a recent Twitter space and, uh, apparently not a lot of pe as youkind of hint, uh, people in the solar industry aren't necessarily fully onboard with Bitcoin yet. But I do think that's going to change, um, because itjust basically solves your intermittency issue.
Benoy Thanjan (41:20):
Definitely. And that's the issue thatwe're trying to solve. Like solar energy is great, but the only thing is likeit's ideal during peak times, right. And there are other times where you couldbasically get solar and it's off peak times, and I don't want to go into theduck curve and all these other things, but this fix fixes essentially theintermed intermed given talk inter ency issue with solar energy because itallows you to use the mining facility whenever, uh, energy is, whenever solarenergy is produced.
Speaker 4 (42:00):
So do you, um, are you open tocollaborating with other crypto mining facilities or, or just Bitcoin?
Benoy Thanjan (42:11):
I'm, we're open to other, uh, youknow, uh, other mining facilities outside of Bitcoin. Um, you know, obviouslywe have to understand the currency to get comfortable with it if it's somethingthat, you know, we don't know. But, uh, yeah, it's definitely, we're, we'renot, we're not just looking at Bitcoin, but predominantly everyone we've spokento are, are, are Bitcoin miners and that's why.
Speaker 4 (42:37):
And when you speak with, uh, otherpeople in the solar industry, uh, what is their, um, comfort level with bi withjust Bitcoin? Do they tend to think, do they see it as an opportunity? Do theysee it as a waste? Do they see it as fake money? How do they see it
Benoy Thanjan (42:53):
<laugh>? Honestly, most people,and I was just at a conference in San Diego for community Solar, um, mostpeople don't really understand Bitcoin in the solar industry, um, and what thebenefits could be. And that's usually not, not a topic that's talking spokenabout. Um, it's usually a battery storage, how can we tie batteries in? Um, Isaw actually there's like a financing conference that's pretty big in the solarindustry happening in March. And they do have a person from us Bitcoin, Iforget the name of the company. I think it's talking about the crypto opportunity.Um, but that the thing that I've seen, and then like one podcast from a lawyertalking about crypto and solar, other than that, like I feel like most of theindustry or the people who know are probably not talking about it because Ithink it's a big opportunity, but there's so much opportunity to be had.
Speaker 4 (43:52):
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm just curiousnow, are you like relative to other people in the solar industry? Are you theBitcoin guy or am I misinterpreting
Benoy Thanjan (44:02):
<laugh>? I dunno if we're theBitcoin guy, we're like looking at a very large portfolio of projects to help.Um, and it could be one of the first ones, but like obviously there's a longroad ahead. The challenging thing is like the financing of the project mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Sure. And to get those investors interested, um, ask me ayear from now, I probably probably could tell, tell you, you know, the problemis like the project lifecycle of projects take for solar takes a very long timedue to like permitting. Well, I guess there's these same issues actually withcrypto, but I guess you don't need the same mass or, or like area, surfacearea. But yeah, I don't know if we're the people. I think there, there aredefinitely other companies that are doing it, but they're just keeping it onthe down low. Um, interesting. So I don't know if we're the go-to people, but Iknow there are other companies like looking at it. I just don't know if they'rethe prime, you know, like who, I don't know. There's no information out there,like who's actually trying to develop these projects.
Speaker 4 (45:14):
Wow. Very interesting. Wow. So you'rereally ahead of the curve then. Um, by the way, uh, let me just say if anyonein the audience has any questions or comments, uh, either for me or certainlyfor Benoy, you're more than welcome to raise your hand and, uh, yeah, we'rehappy to bring you on board. So Benoy, um, getting a little bit back into moreof the energy side of things, do you have, are you passionate about allrenewable energy or is there a re like are you kind of a solar maximalist, toborrow a phrase?
Benoy Thanjan (45:44):
<laugh>. So I believe, youknow, obviously other renewable energy, not just solar. Like the reason 10years ago why I named the company Renew Energy and not Sun and Solar was I knewthat there was gonna be other technologies, existing technologies or newtechnologies that come in and it's solar's not gonna be the only solution.There's gonna be different energy sources that are gonna be the solution. Um, Ialso believe that there's still a need for fossil fuels as well. Um, and thenalso too, like, you know, there's like this whole conversation now and I don'tknow how familiar you are Logan, about potentially us being able to do like nuclearfish Oh yeah. Infusion. So like that's, you know, something that I've, youknow, obviously looked at before and something that might be, you know, so I'mnot, uh, I think like solar is gonna be a dominant technology and the key thingis it's like you're not using energy.
Like if you use a coal plant, you'reburning coal, natural gas, you're using it. But the solar panel, like, it'salmost like a, like a, a processing chip. Like the technology just keepsgetting better and better and smaller and more efficient. So it's not like yourtypical energy source that you're basically losing. It's, you know, and, andwe're getting better at recycling. There's companies coming out, you know, theuseful life of these solar panels are 30 to 40 years now. They're companiesthat are able to like recycle the materials, which I think is very important.We're also using less like precious me metals and certain commodities less, andwhich then makes it, you know, more valuable to society. But I think solar isdefinitely gonna be one of the dominant technologies when it comes to theenergy mix of the future. Yeah.
Speaker 4 (47:40):
One thing that, um, from my, uh,studies on renewable energies, I used to kind of associate solar and wind. Iused to pair those together in my mind, but I think, and correct me if I'mwrong, but it strikes me that solar is able to, uh, scale and decentralize muchmore effectively than wind power can.
Benoy Thanjan (48:00):
Yeah, that, that's correct. I'veworked on wind development, that's the primary reason why solar is, uh, like abetter technology. The other thing too is solar usually, um, basically you wantyour solar energy when it's hot outside, you're using all the electricity andac and that's usually when solar's producing the most energy. So that's reallylike on peak demand is offset best by solar, usually like wind. It's, first ofall, when you talk about the larger wind turbines, it takes a long time topermit those projects. The other thing too is usually most of the electricityis produced at night when electricity is usually the cheapest. It's usually onthose like hot sunny days that you know you're gonna want to use solar. Sothat's why it's like a more preferred, uh, to use solar. But I could see in thefuture, you know, obviously different technologies all coming together andworking to solve this energy issue that's gonna be decentralized anddistributed versus the current versus what the majority of it is nowcentralized.
Just to give you an example, I'm in SanDiego, we're having 40 miles per hour winds, and then the electricity went outin downtown San Diego for an hour, which is pretty crazy if you think about it.Like that's because the infrastructure, you know, hasn't been updated in a longtime. There's not enough renewable energy resources or backup storage, youknow, or generators out there. So it's interesting you see that even in thecountry of the US that there needs to be a lot done for this aging ininfrastructure. And the best way to do it is obviously fix the infrastructure,but also put a lot of distributed resources onto the grid that createsreliability.
Speaker 4 (49:57):
Right? Yeah, I mean, when it comesto, I don't e to be honest, I don't know if I agree with you that the rightthing to do is necessarily to fix the current infrastructure. I mean, of coursethat's always going to be good, but if we could somehow build out adistributed, uh, quasi independent infrastructure of solar, I wonder if ourresources would be better spent doing that.
Benoy Thanjan (50:19):
Yeah, that's actually a good point.So I, when I, I, I actually misspoke. Like I didn't think like totally fixingthe infrastructure. Like there needs to be probably some upgrades done to thegrid, but the, obviously the best way is to do it decentralized and focus ondecentralized, um, power generation because that is gonna be always morereliable than, you know, having transmission and distribution networks bringelectricity from a very far distance. Right.
Speaker 4 (50:54):
So, and that's something, uh, bitcoinmining can help with as well by kind of, um, canceling nullifying thetransmission cost by serving as a continuous buyer. Um, so you
Benoy Thanjan (51:05):
Yes, that's a great
Speaker 4 (51:06):
Point. You had mentioned thatsometimes, uh, solar projects take a while. I'm just curious, is that because,is there, in your opinion, is there an excessive amount of red regulatory redtape around the solar industry? Or would you say that you guys are actuallypretty good at being able to operate in independently and freely?
Benoy Thanjan (51:23):
No, so yeah, that's the key thing.Basically the regulatory framework is the reason why it takes such a long timefor solar to come online. Like you have to get the permitting from thetownship. The township wants to chart some sort of, uh, property tax. Um, theutility wants to use the money to up, wants to basically upgrade theinterconnection point with the money from the project, which is not necessarilyfair, I believe, because there's other benefits that the utilities, uh, gettingfrom upgrading the infrastructure through the money from that project. Um, theother thing too is like you're competing against, and by the way, this is anissue with crypto. You're competing against the utilities, right? And theirprimary business, and you're taking that business away from them doing solargeneration. So like, you know, people are gonna make it as difficult aspossible to make it happen just because you're taking their existing business.
And a lot of these, you know,companies have monopolies on their business and they have a lot of money asspecial interest groups to influence, um, the government, both local, state andfederal to make things difficult and to make it a long time to, to get thingsonline. But eventually, you know, right now solar's the cheapest form of powerin the US so you can't over, over the long term, you know, keep it, it'seventually gonna happen no matter what because the economics prove it out. Andthis is actually similar to, to Bitcoin or crypto, like why would the USgovernment wanna support Bitcoin other than collecting taxes from it or tryingto collect taxes from it, you know, like they're gonna do everything they canbecause you're taking business away from them.
Speaker 4 (53:27):
Uh, yes, that's certainly one way toput it. Um, I could make some interesting arguments that it would be in the USgovernment's best interest to embrace Bitcoin because on the global stage itwould put them at an advantage over other, over its rivals, let's say. Becauseif we're on a Bitcoin standard and we're getting a little bit of field, but youmight find this interesting that
Benoy Thanjan (53:49):
I do find this
Speaker 4 (53:50):
Interesting. So if we're on a Bitcoinstandard, then people's ability to generate wealth, uh, is basicallyaccelerated, which means the purchasing power of the US dollar or any layer twomoney on top of Bitcoin increases relative to the currencies of othergovernments. And so the, in other words going on the Bitcoin standard from thegovernment's perspective is like putting its economy on steroids, which onlystrengthens itself because then its tax receipts go that much further.
Benoy Thanjan (54:18):
That's actually something that Ihaven't heard before, and that's pretty interesting. Yeah, I feel like thegovernment though, thinks very short
Speaker 4 (54:24):
Term. Exactly. That's
Benoy Thanjan (54:25):
Correct. Especially when you're the,when you're the fiat parent.
Speaker 4 (54:29):
Yes. That's the rub. That's the rub.Uh, it's short term versus long term. Uh, but you know, look, that's the nameof the, I mean, that's like everything in life, right? It's like, okay, this isgonna be, uh, this might be uncomfortable in the short term. I'm sure. I'm surethere're examples of this in solar too. It's like, okay, short term this mightbe confusing and you're not familiar with it, but you know, long term this isworth it. So, um, yeah,
Benoy Thanjan (54:51):
And the problem is, you know,politicians, right? They're motivated by getting reelected mm-hmm.<affirmative>, and they're focused always on short term and their specialinterest groups, which makes it challenging not just on this, on the Bitcoinlevel, for them to think long term on what's best for, you know, the us. So,
Speaker 4 (55:11):
Yeah. Well, I think when it comes toboth, uh, renewables and look from where I stand, renewables have gained a lotof ground in, let's say the United States just by entering the collectiveconsciousness of people that recognizing that renewables have tons of benefits.Um, so, you know, as you say, politicians do want to get reelected, but if thevoters value renewable energy in Bitcoin, then the way for them to getreelected is by, uh, enacting policies that favor both of those things.
Benoy Thanjan (55:42):
The, that's a great point. And for,and you're starting to see that with solar, renewable energy, reallypoliticians and corporations, especially with climate happening, you're seeingthat it's now becoming in the forefront of politics and I think you'll as wellsee that with crypto, you know, over time as well.
Speaker 4 (56:04):
Absolutely. Um, so if anyone has any,uh, last minute questions, uh, before we get outta here, feel free to raiseyour hand. Um, but if not, Benoy, I wanna really thank you for your time. It'sa, it was a pleasure catching up. I know we, uh, we hung out a little bit inMiami. Not as much as I would've liked, but that's okay. I'm sure we'll seeeach other again.
Benoy Thanjan (56:22):
<laugh>. Yeah, I'm ready forMiami 2023 that definitely Logan would love if you could write some solar stufffor us. Yes. You know, I know we talked about
Speaker 4 (56:33):
That. We did talk about that. Uh,yeah, I mean, uh, yeah, we, we could talk offline. My pl I, you know, a as youknow, I, uh, I have a deep passion for writing about ideas and spreading them.Uh, it's what I like to do in life, so yeah, happy to, happy to talk for sure.So, uh,
Benoy Thanjan (56:49):
Great. And I appreciate you lettingme beyond. Um, I think like this is great that you're creating a platform forpeople to learn about this. I think this is con content that's not spoke aboutin the industry, you know, in like normal conversations and it should be. Yeah.So, you know, I appreciate you doing that. And also if you know people areinterested in learning more about this, um, you definitely should check out thetwo interviews that I did on the Solar Maverick podcast. One's with, uh, Kent,who's the c o of of SA Mining and one's with Williams Maggy, who's the c e oand president of, uh, and that was actually, Williams was on episode 86 of theSolar Maverick podcast, and Kentz was episode 1 25 of the Solar Maverickpodcast. If you wanna learn more
Speaker 4 (57:44):
Benoy Thanjan (57:45):
Outside of this conversations.
Speaker 4 (57:46):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, those are,those are definitely good conversations and, and like I said at the very top,you know, you are, uh, largely the reason SAS mining exists in its currentform. So, uh, we're all, we're all in your debt benoy and with that, yeah,we'll definitely talk soon. Um, Benoy and I wanna thank you very much forjoining. I wanna thank the audience for participating. Hope you learnedsomething new, uh, and we'll see you next week. So thank you. Have a good dayeveryone. Bye.
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