Bitcoin Miners at Fidelity’s Summit: Bitcoin Mining Uses Clean Energy, Not Environmental Threat


Bitcoin miners used Fidelity’s Mining Summit to tell critics of bitcoin mining that the industry plays a key role in driving adoption of clean renewable energy, far from criticism that it is an ecological catastrophe.

The one-day event took place at Fidelity’s Boston headquarters, the company’s R&D division being the host at the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology. Interestingly, the R&D has itself undertaken bitcoin mining for the financial services giant.

During presentations, bitcoin miners set out to dispel the belief and misleading view that bitcoin mining uses too much electricity to secure its network and that it poses an environmental risk.

At the moment, Digiconomist estimates that bitcoin mining consumes about 0.26% of the world’s electricity.

John Belizaire, the CEO of a company called Soluna exemplified what miners are after the search for cheaper power. Soluna wants its miners to use energy from wind power generated in Morocco.

Interestingly, as Belizaire noted, surplus power from their large plant will be injected into the national grid.

He noted that in a little over a decade, bitcoin will be viewed a lot more different than it is now as it would be at the center of an infrastructural revolution.

According to him, bitcoin mining is going to drive monetization efforts that would see the launch of global computation networks and the emergence of global scale renewable power companies. But this time, he added, the sector will not rely on subsidies from the government.

Chinese coal! No

For most critics, bitcoin mining uses “dirty Chinese coal,” a misconception that Chris Bendiksen from crypto research firm CoinShares says must be corrected.

According to Bendiksen, research into the sources of energy for the vast crypto mining sector in China has shown that it’s not coal but rivers that cater to these energy needs.

The firm notes that most miners prefer the mountainous regions of Sichuan province in China, whose big rivers add to the overall mix of renewable power available for use.

The report states that almost half of global crypto mining (about 48 percent) takes place in the Sichuan region while a further 12 percent occurs in other regions of China.

In Sichuan, renewable energy accounts for nearly 90 percent of all energy consumed. In the rest of China, miners’ electricity needs are catered for using renewable sources of energy.

The Western world accounts for about 35 percent of bitcoin mining, with a majority in Canadian regions of British Columbia and Quebec, the U.S. state of Washington, and in Iceland.

Only 5 percent of mining occurs in other parts of the world, with all these places know to have massive sources of renewable energy- particularly hydro-power.

Bendiksen also pointed out that most of the world’s hydropower is largely “underutilized,” with hydropower plants mostly built in regions seen as “suitable.”

However, most often these places with huge rivers are mostly scarcely populated, something that makes bitcoin mining one way of putting the excess energy into good use.

Mining on ‘waste’

The oil drilling industry could be another source of cheap energy for the bitcoin mining sector, according to Stephen Barbour.

Barbour, who is the president of data company Upstream Data, notes that there is a lot of wastage going on in the oil industry in relation to a gas called “associated gas.” This is a natural gas that comes out during oil mining, and which oil companies get rid of by burning.

Estimates put the burned ‘wasted’ gas volumes at about 140 cubic meters annually. According to Barbour, Upstream Data created a system that helps to harvest the gas and convert it into usable energy for its bitcoin mining operations.

The company has a prototype in place in Canada and has been utilized to cut carbon emissions at the oil drilling site by more than 10,000 tons every year. The company has allegedly used the “vent gas” at a 45-kW plant and Bitmain’s Antminer S9 to mine nearly 20 bitcoins in the last two years.

Since oil companies would want to get rid of the associated gas, letting bitcoin miners do the dirty work of capturing it and helping clean the environment could see the system pick up.

And even though bitcoin miners may not draw motivation from the need to protect the environment, they still do care, as using fossil fuels is way too expensive, said Bendiksen.

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.

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