As clean energy gradually gets cheaper, mining operations will help subsidize green projects, writes the CEO of mining firm CleanSpark. This op-ed is part of CoinDesk’s Mining Week.

TL;DR, making mineable cryptos “greener” is like putting green spray paint on a turd.

Most recently, evidence has shown that since China’s crackdown last year, mining bitcoin has become a less green business. This is because when most bitcoin mining took place in China, miners could take advantage of excess hydropower in the country’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces during the rainy season – despite coal’s abundance.

This just seems like subtle not so subtle anger at China banning their cash cow. That renewable energy isn’t being lost now that mining is banned. It’s now being used for other purposes, presumably ones that actually produce useful services like driving electric vehicles and trains, powering factories, heating and cooling, etc. When the reality is that the world is nowhere near 100% electric, we need to do two things if we want to reduce carbon emissions: increase renewable energy production, and reduce total energy consumption. Increasing both energy production and consumption, even if renewable, sums to zero.

And even excess energy, energy that is left over after all the region’s energy demands are satisfied and storage is full, is useful for other things. Factories could use it to ramp up production beyond their normal when there was less energy to go around (we’re going to have to get used to seasonal variation in production as the world becomes more renewable powered, IMO, but that’s a different story), produce hydrogen and other non-fossil fuels, transmit it to other places, maybe even carbon resorption! Or if we want to stay in the realm computing, why not use that energy and the GPUs that would have mined bitcoins to perform scientific simulations with the excess energy? Or just build more storage to further reduce dependence on non-renewables during the rest of the year? The article seems to REALLY bank on the concept of bitcoining mining with energy during times of surplus, but there are a million more productive ways of spending that excess energy.

Or as another analogy: one country has 1 million electric cars and one country has 1 million gas cars. The first country bans all cars and their citizens switch to walking. So now only the gas cars are left. Does that mean that global transportation just got “less green”?

Is bitcoin doomed to have a bad reputation in environmental, social and governance (ESG) circles forever?

Yes, in the same way that air conditioning the outside is doomed to have a bad reputation in environmental, social and governance (ESG) circles forever. When you’re burning energy on a thing that produces no objectively useful resources, environmentalists are going to hate it. Calculated hashes are not useful! You can’t eat them, wear them, build houses or structures with them or power machines with them. They aren’t even entertaining like spending energy to play video games or watch movies are, so they don’t even compare to other intangible computer stuff.

The latest data from the Bitcoin Mining Council shows that the majority of the bitcoin mining industry uses a sustainable electricity mix – a trend that has already increased.

An increasing number of mining companies now use renewable sources, such as geothermal energy or solar power, to power their operations. Sustainable bitcoin mining is growing

Again, it would be better if it didn’t use that energy so we can use it to displace fossil fuels elsewhere!

because it simply makes sense from a business perspective

Every other industry is in the same boat, and most other industries actually produce useful things. A coin miner burning energy prevents, say, an electric train from getting that energy. Bitcoin mining actually raises the price of energy because it massively inflates demand!

And as clean energy gradually gets cheaper, mining operations will help subsidize green projects.

First the article talks business sense and now this? Wouldn’t it logically make business sense for bitcoin mining to only subsidize as much energy as it’s using? So the cost and availability of renewable energy for everything else will hardly change, if at all, because bitcoin miners will be using up most or all of the energy they’re subsidizing.

The government then quickly changed course when the energy grid became overloaded, forcing miners out of the country. The situation is similar in Iran, where a combination of U.S. sanctions and illegal, unregulated mining has led the government to do a U-turn on welcoming the industry.

And? That makes sense! When people are literally running out of electricity to power their own homes, because a bunch of miners are using it all up to crunch useless hashes, why shouldn’t the government act against the miners?

But renewables can solve a lot of these problems: Bitcoin mining will allow for a faster payback on solar or wind energy projects, and they will spring up in regions where before they were not economically feasible.

Yes, but, again, most of that energy will be used for mining, instead of actually displacing fossil fuels in existing energy sinks, which is the real goal of renewables.

The bitcoin mining industry is not only on its way to a low-carbon future, but it also already produces less carbon than equally energy-intensive industries – such as aluminum production, which spews out up to 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

But aluminum production actually produces a useful product! Aluminum! Which can then be used to build stuff that provide goods and services that people need to function in society! What does bitcoin mining produce that can actually be used for a purpose, let alone is actually essential to someone’s life?

Also, the very fact that you have to compare doing math to literally melting and tearing apart rocks at the molecular level to turn minerals into pure metal is a testament to just how much energy bitcoin consumes. Aluminum production is running right up against the laws of physics, that literally dictate that to take the aluminum atom out of the naturally occurring compound it’s locked up in (aluminium metal doesn’t exist naturally), you absolutely have to spend a minimum of a certain amount of energy, equivalent to the energy that was released when the aluminum atom was first incorporated into that compound. And you’re comparing doing math, an ethereal, conceptual thing, to that?

Bitcoin’s other ESG selling point is that it gives back, too, with energy solutions – a little known fact is that bitcoin mining can actually strengthen a power grid.

And last month Texas-based bitcoin miners helped the state by powering down operations so the grid could function more efficiently ahead of icy weather.

Logical fallacy. Imagine how much stronger the power grid could be if they never had operations could begin with! News flash! You can build a higher capacity electrical grid without using it to near full capacity all the time! It’s a concept called reserve capacity, and it can be built with the only incentive to strengthen the power grid in case of emergency, it doesn’t need pre-existing demand to be built! This whole thing just reeks of libertarian “the free market is the best regulator” BS.

If you want a cryptocurrency that has the benefits of a blockchain, there are energy efficient non-mineable cryptocurrencies. An excellent example is China’s new Digital Yuan. Mining is nothing but a desire to get rich without actually doing any useful work.

Or how about this? Replace bitcoin mining with computing protein folding, physics simulations, astronomy data analysis, weather and climate prediction, genetics and evolution simulations, or even training AI, and suddenly most of the arguments in this article are actually valid. Because those things spend energy just the same, can be done on GPUs just like bitcoin mining can, but the difference is that the results of those types of computation are not random hashes, but actually something that can be used to contribute to humanity! See how that works? But I doubt any bitcoin miners are hitting up universities and going “hey, we have a giant warehouse just filled to the brim with GPUs, got any, like, medical research we can help you with? Let’s crack the solutions to the problems of humanity!” Because that doesn’t make money.


nice response. my equally well thought out response:

ayo fuck bitcoin


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