By Marco Streng, CEO of Genesis Digital Assets, one of the world’s largest industrial-scale bitcoin mining companies.
Bitcoin mining is now “one of the most sustainable industries in the world”.
A recent report by the Bitcoin Mining Council revealed that in the first quarter of 2022, the Bitcoin mining industry as a whole was using a sustainable electricity mix of 58.4% – one of the most sustainable industries in the world. They also found that sustainable energy consumption also increased by 59% compared to last year.
These discoveries are exciting to watch. One of the frequent criticisms of Bitcoin mining is that it consumes a lot of energy to power – more than the equivalent of a small country. While some mining operations likely still rely on dirty fossil fuels to power their rigs, many are looking to sustainable paths forward, not just for the future of their industry, but for the future of the planet.
The New York Times reports that not only are the largest publicly traded crypto mining companies already using renewable energy, but that the demand for sustainable energy sources from mining will encourage the creation of companies and facilities offering energy wind turbine, solar energy and other options. It is a virtuous circle that will bring about real change in the world.
If you are considering adopting more sustainable energy sources to power your mining operations, here is an overview of the options available today.
Because it harnesses the sun’s energy, solar is the most abundant form of renewable energy in existence today. It can also be used anywhere on the planet, not just in certain premises like hydro. It is estimated that just one and a half hours of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface is enough to cover all of Earth’s energy needs for an entire year.
Solar energy is also the fastest growing renewable energy source, with an annual average of 33%, and is expected to be the fastest growing sector in the future. With installation costs falling, this growth means the infrastructure will be available for those who want to use it. In addition, the cost of this already cheap source of energy is expected to drop by 15% to 35% by 2024.
Wind power is another abundant form of renewable energy found around the world and stands as one of the cheapest sources of renewable energy at a cost of $0.01 to $0.02 $ per kilowatt hour. Wind is also considered a green energy source because its energy process does not produce any associated greenhouse gases. As solar energy grows, wind infrastructure, capacity and job creation grow, with 16,836 megawatts of wind capacity installed in 2020 in the United States alone. The wind footprint is also considered to be 40% smaller than natural gas and 90% smaller than coal.
Hydroelectricity, or harnessing the power of rivers, streams and other bodies of water, is another cheap and abundant source of energy. While hydroelectricity is location-based – plants must be installed on bodies of water – it is a very predictable source of energy. It is one of the cheapest sources of energy at $0.04 per kilowatt hour, and it is also one of the most efficient, as the plants can convert up to 90% of the energy captured into electricity, compared to only 50% with fossil fuels. . It is also already used in abundance, since 71% of the renewable electricity produced today comes from hydroelectricity.
There is a lot of heat stored in the earth’s crust, which can be converted into geothermal energy – about 50,000 times more stored energy than oil and gas resources. Geothermal springs are located where the earth’s crust allows energy to be released, such as tectonic plates, which means the geothermal energy supply is limited to the location. Although there has been slow growth in the geothermal industry – around 2% per year – there is still interest in it as a renewable source, especially in areas of tectonic plates which can really exploit its potential. Similar to wind being a green energy source, geothermal power plants emit 99% less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel power plants.
Tides and ocean
If you’ve ever seen waves crashing on a North Atlantic beach, you understand the power the ocean can generate – so much so that experts believe that if wave energy were fully harnessed, it could respond to global energy needs. It is estimated that the wave energy potential off the US coast could provide up to 2.64 trillion kilowatt hours, equivalent to 66% of US energy production.
Like hydroelectricity, putting in place ways to capture energy from the ocean means that plants are location-specific, but like hydroelectricity, tides are a very predictable and constant source of energy. And because water is much denser than air, capturing energy from the oceans can produce more energy per unit area than wind.
Sustainable energy can also be generated by burning bio-waste such as wood, garbage, landfill gas, crops, charcoal and manure, and turning the heat into steam. Although burning waste for heat and power is not a new concept, the sector is growing rapidly and has grown by 40% over the past decade. In 2020, global waste-to-energy capacity increased by 5.8% over the previous year, and factories have the ability to reduce the volume of waste they start with by 87%.
Increase the use of renewable energy
It is expected that due to increased demand for renewable energy, global supply could increase by 50% over the next five years. Bitcoin mining needs these renewable sources, and not only can be a consumer, but also has the ability to push for more renewable sources. Ultimately, it’s good for mining and it’s good for the planet.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.