John Belizaire is the CEO of Soluna Computing, the world’s first utility-scale company building modular, batchable computing centers for intensive applications like cryptocurrency mining, AI, and machine learning, powered by renewable energy.
As a serial entrepreneur, John has successfully founded and scaled multiple industry-leading technology startups that have achieved market leadership and double-digit growth, including FirstBest, an insurance software company acquired by Guidewire, and The Theory Center, a software company acquired by BEA Systems.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, John was the lead architect for Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group. John holds BS and MEng degrees in Computer Science from Cornell University.
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Table of Contents
Tell us about Soluna.
John Belizaire: Soluna is the vanguard in renewable computing. We are a new class of digital infrastructure company, one powered by renewable energy that would otherwise go to waste.
We design and implement data centers that are not just “green” in name, but the most efficient in the industry, paving the way for a reimagined future of cloud computing. We power high-intensity batchable processes like powering the Bitcoin network, video transcoding, scientific research, and deep learning.
What differentiates Soluna from other Bitcoin miners?
John Belizaire: Most Bitcoin miners draw their power from the broader grid, increasing the strain on that power grid and increasing the power generation needed from fossil fuels.
Our facilities are located directly on the premises of green power plants, primarily wind farms. We draw excess energy that the power grid can’t absorb and the power plant can’t monetize, known as curtailed energy, allowing us to take advantage of these below-market energy prices. We also source energy directly from the green power resource when needed. A true green solution.
What problem is Soluna’s business intended to solve?
John Belizaire: Soluna provides solutions for two parties. On one hand, high intensity computing like Bitcoin mining, AI, and ML requires a tremendous amount of energy, and Soluna increases the network’s capacity and its utilization of renewable computing. On the other side, you have owners of green energy resources.
Typically wind and solar generation sites and similar resources run at sub-100% utilization rates. Renewable power sources tend to be intermittent, or inconsistent, in nature. Therefore, they either have an abundance of energy that goes wasted or not enough energy at all.
Soluna serves as a release valve for the generator by absorbing excess energy that would otherwise be wasted. Through this process, the utilization rate of the green resource increases, and so does its economics. In essence, computing is a better battery.
How do you see Soluna’s business evolving over time?
John Belizaire: Soluna is very much in the growth phase now. We have a pipeline of development projects that we plan to take on as Soluna grows to scale. Our long-term plan includes moving beyond Bitcoin. We believe we can finance our development through Bitcoin mining to provide “Batchable Computing” in the future beyond powering the Bitcoin network.
Batchable Computing is a service where a client (think medical research or video transcoding) has a particular computing-intensive need that isn’t real-time. We will offer our renewable computing services at a fraction of the cost of “always on” data centers, and do so in a way to meet ESG goals. This zero-carbon cloud will include computing hardware and software tuned to provide service for intensive analytical applications like deep learning.
With electrical grids stretched as they are, how do you address people that argue energy should go elsewhere?
John Belizaire: The benefit of our model is that we primarily use energy that would today be sent into the ground by the utility because the grid cannot handle it. We offer the power producer a way to generate revenue where before they received none. We offer a solution to the Bitcoin network and the Enterprise customers that empowers renewable energy growth.
And, the flexible nature of data centers also provides a valuable capability to the grid to help it absorb more renewables. When the grid needs more of the power from the generator, our facilities can quickly ramp down our operations to support the grid. This approach brings a new resource to grid operators as they navigate the challenge of replacing traditional power plants with more sustainable, low-cost sources of energy.
What is the next big piece of news for Soluna?
John Belizaire: The next step for Soluna will be completing and energizing the first 50MW of Project Dorothy, our wind-powered data center facility in Texas. Energizing Dorothy will deliver scale to our renewable computing operations and bring our energy costs to an industry-leading rate. Dorothy will be a symbol of our envisioned future state for the grid, where renewables are the dominant power source.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank John Belizaire for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with John Belizaire or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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