“What I love about Bitcoin is that we can operate in a way that not only prevents harm, but rather is additive,” CleanSpark CEO Zach Bradford told me in our interview when discussing the impact bitcoin mining has on networks and communities.
CleanSpark is a publicly traded bitcoin mining company that uses a mix of nuclear, hydro, solar and wind energy to mine bitcoin. “What is often lost in the discussion about sustainability is its purpose. It’s not just to use low-carbon energy for the sake of it, rather we’re doing it to make an impact,” explains Bradford of their intentions.
According to Bradford, the U.S. power grid is more fragile than most people understand, requiring significant investment to rebuild resilience. Bitcoin mining’s unique power consumption characteristics make it the perfect addition to underutilized or stranded energy resources.
In addition to job creation, CleanSpark has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in rural communities, funding projects from improving substations to replacing power lines and poles.
There are a number of bitcoin miners who use renewable energy sources or waste energy. These operators have a positive impact on the environment, the network and communities around the world. Here are just a few examples of how they make a difference.
Cully Cavness is the co-founder, president and chief operating officer of Crusoe Energy. Prior to co-founding Crusoe, Cavness held leadership and management positions in the upstream oil and gas and geothermal energy industries, as well as energy investment banking.
Crusoe started tapping the methane that oil and gas companies used to have to flare off. In addition, the methane is burned more thoroughly, which reduces emissions. Crusoe is also building data centers in a cooperative manner with wind and solar to flatten their production curves and reduce strain on the power grid.
“Bitcoin can be a great tool for reducing methane emissions,” Cavness said in our interview. By 2022, the Crusoe team said they have reduced natural gas flaring by more than 4 billion cubic feet, reduced 6,400 tons of methane emissions and reduced more emissions than they generated, leading to net negative emissions.
Crusoe is now expanding its data center services to cloud and AI computing. They also recently opened an operation in Argentina, a potentially vital lifeline amid the country’s ongoing currency crisis.
Kerri Langlais is the Chief Strategy Officer of TeraWulf Inc., a publicly traded bitcoin mining company that also uses carbon-free energy sources.
Langlais told me in our interview that TeraWulf will only place facilities in places where supply and demand are unbalanced. In doing so, she believes, they can enter into a symbiotic relationship with the grid and the grid operators.
For example, TeraWulf recently became the first bitcoin mining facility in the US to be directly connected to a nuclear power plant. Langlais referred to TeraWulf as an energy well, using power that is generated anyway but would otherwise go unused and unpaid.
By doing so, TeraWulf increases power plant utilization during periods of lower demand, spreading fixed costs over a larger consumption pool, reducing costs to consumers.
“Having built my career on harmonizing humanity’s relationship with the planet, I couldn’t see a better place to put my work focus,” Kent Halliburton said in our interview, citing his previous experience in the renewable energy sector. energy and renewed passion for bitcoin.
Halliburton is the president and COO overseeing the development of bitcoin mining operations at Sazmining, a company that offers retail investors an easy way to invest in bitcoin mining.
Halliburton said he left his earlier career to focus on renewable energy bitcoin mining after learning about bitcoin and realizing the powerful synergies between the two worlds.
Like TeraWulf, Sazmining consumes the excess power from hydroelectric power plants. Halliburton says they’re focusing on hydropower because of its low cost and reliability.
As bitcoin mining permeates the energy industry, it has the potential to revitalize rural America and boost development in the Global South while reducing emissions and strengthening existing networks.
The incentives are complex, but the results are starting to show. Bitcoin mining is here to stay, and it may be just what we need to modernize our energy infrastructure.
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