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Bitcoin miners trying to reduce bad reputation

Many large Bitcoin mining systems have started to switch to using clean energy such as wind power, solar power to reduce the impact on the environment.

Along a muddy road in the wilderness of Texas, cryptocurrency company Argo Blockchain (based in London) is building a mining factory system. Bitcoin new. But unlike other facilities that previously used electricity from fossil fuels, which emitted large amounts of carbon, Argo claims they are “trying to do something more environmentally responsible”.

The wind turbine is located in the Bitcoin Argo Blockchain mining complex.  Photo: NYTimes

The wind turbine is located in the Bitcoin Argo Blockchain mining complex. Photo: NYTimes

Peter Wall, CEO of Argo, led a team that toured the nearly 12,000 square meter new mining hub site. He pointed to a row of wind turbines a few miles away, where a wind farm is located and will be installing more solar panels soon. “That will be the source of all Bitcoin mining power,” he said.

Facing a barrage of criticism from lawmakers, governments and environmentalists, the crypto industry has begun trying to change the popular view that mining systems consume electricity and damage the climate. Since the start of this year, the five largest crypto companies have all announced that they are building or already operating renewable energy plants.

Efforts to “green” Bitcoin mining are part of the goal of making the industry sustainable. However, things only accelerated last year, after a series of Bitcoin mining systems were banned in China and moved to the US.

In the early years, Bitcoin mining was just running the software on a laptop or PC. However, the specific supply limit makes the difficulty of solving algorithms for obtaining this digital currency increase sharply from time to time. As predicted by DigiConomistto receive one Bitcoin currently requires more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough to power the average American household for 73 days.

To get enough electricity, some miners are looking to revive damaged coal-fired power plants, or turn to gas to light “buffaloes”. However, this activity produces more emissions than ever before. According to research data from Joule announced last month that Bitcoin mining worldwide could produce about 65 megatons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of Greece’s emissions.

The environmental pollution caused by the operation of Bitcoin has long been criticized, but a real change occurred in May 2021, after Elon Musk – a passionate crypto advocate – says Tesla refuse to accept payments in currency, fearing that they are “using more fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and trading”.

Musk’s tweet on Indonesia brought the Bitcoin mining industry into crisis,” commented Michael Saylor, CEO of software company MicroStrategy, which has invested heavily in Bitcoin. Learn what clean energy is, what sustainable energy is”.

Saylor said he spoke with Musk and Wall via Zoom about the sustainability of the Bitcoin mining sector. The Bitcoin Mining Council – a forum for the industry to share ideas and coordinate environmental strategy – was also founded later.

According to Joule, green energy use on the Bitcoin mining network averaged 25% in August 2021, down from 42% in the same period in 2020. Bitcoin-only companies are also committed to limiting energy use from fossil fuels.

For example, since earlier this year, Bitcoin Mining Council member TeraWulf committed to running a cryptocurrency mining pool using more than 90% zero-carbon energy. The company’s New York power plant is now being converted into a hydroelectric plant, while its Pennsylvania branch uses nuclear power.

However, the stats of New York Time shows that more than a dozen top Bitcoin miners still use more than half of their electricity from fossil fuels, such as the Sangha System, Marathon, and even Argo. The reason most of these businesses give is because electricity of this type is still much cheaper than renewable energy.

Recently, a number of renewable energy businesses have started selling electricity to cryptocurrency miners. However, Mr Wall admits that companies like him are not trusted. “They’re still a bit skeptical about cryptocurrencies, and miners don’t have a good enough credit record to sign transactions lasting 10-15 years,” Wall said.

Despite criticism or backlash, Wall believes that the company will continue to mine Bitcoin until the currency is gone. “That’s a fact. All we need to do is mine Bitcoin in the most environmentally friendly way possible,” Wall added.

Bao Lam (based on NYTimes)

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