Bitcoin mining is energizing sustainability through green innovation

A recent opinion column piece in this publication argued that Marathon Digital Holdings, where I am vice president of policy, and the Bitcoin community at large are conducting a “greenwashing” campaign in support of an irredeemable environmental hazard. It is worth noting that this argument pushes a narrative funded by “industry competitors.” 

In fact, working with policymakers and elected officials in Washington to educate them about our industry so that they can craft sensible regulation is a far cry from promoting “false narratives.” In fact, it is working to help the very cause we’ve been accused of hurting. 

This warrants a more in-depth exploration of the Bitcoin ecosystem and the real positive environmental impacts the network is creating. 

The relationship between Bitcoin mining and the environment has long been misunderstood. However, the fog of misunderstanding around Bitcoin mining’s energy usage is finally clearing. Bitcoin mining is, in fact, emerging as a trailblazer in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions. It is revolutionizing the way we generate and consume power and creating a highly productive synergy that promises to transform the energy landscape.  

Marathon Digital Holdings stands as one example of this fact, among many, by walking the walk. The company just reported that its operations will be 100 percent carbon neutral in 2023, and 58 percent of its energy has been derived from sustainable sources this year. Other companies focus on sustainable energy, such as HIVE Digital Technology’s focus on energy efficiency and agriculture, along with Hut 8 and Bitfarms’ commitments to hydro and nuclear power, show that this dedication is in no way isolated.  

How many other companies or industries can show even a fraction of this level of commitment not only to sustainability but also to driving progress in green energy technologies?  

Mining companies are pioneering a diverse range of green energy technologies. From actually providing economic incentives for energy companies to build out more sustainable energy, to finding new ways and places to use green energy, their impact is nothing short of  groundbreaking. 

An often overlooked but vital aspect of energy utilization is grid stabilization, and Bitcoin miners are making substantial contributions to this effort across the globe. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are inherently variable. Their productivity is dependent on the weather and the time of day. Bitcoin mining serves as a demand response mechanism during periods of excess energy production. Instead of allowing excess electricity to go to waste, miners consume it, effectively serving as a reliable customer for energy grids as they convert wasted energy into economic value. 

This grid stabilization function is crucial because renewable energy sources like wind and solar cannot always adjust production to meet fluctuating demand in the same way that fossil fuel plants can. By providing a reliable outlet for excess renewable energy, Bitcoin mining enhances the viability and profitability of clean energy sources. 

Mining’s curtailment capacity is also beneficial to stabilizing grids during times of varied need for power on a daily basis and in the event of emergencies such as storms. For example, during winter storm Elliot in Texas, Bitcoin mining facilities curtailed their consumption from 1,530 MW to 130 MW. This impressive 91.5 percent reduction during the peak demand was critical in maintaining energy infrastructure.  

As the desire to expand renewable energy increases, the Bitcoin mining industry’s commitment to green energy can help drive the development of renewable energy infrastructure. Because they are location agnostic, Bitcoin miners can play a significant role in developing more renewables by serving as an energy generator’s initial customer. Their dedication to sustainable energy helps to both maintain and attract investment, leading to the expansion and improvement of renewable technologies.  

Location optimization is another key strategy employed by Bitcoin miners to improve their sustainability. Strategically choosing locations with abundant and often stranded renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, wind or solar power, reduces reliance on fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions. This approach also fosters economic development in regions with renewable resources that might otherwise go untapped.   

In addition to advancing new and sustainable sources of energy, mining outfits are also addressing the emissions of other industries and helping to decarbonize them. An innovative example is Bitcoin miners’ ability to harness methane gas that would otherwise be burned or released into the atmosphere. 

Methane emissions are 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and are growing. On-site Bitcoin mining rigs provide a unique solution to harness this otherwise wasted energy, showcasing the industry’s technical and forward-thinking approach to environmental challenges.  

Not only do miners use recycled power for their operations, but they also take care to steward the heat produced as a result of their operations for purposes such as heating homes and businesses, as well as providing heat to greenhouses and food production

Over the years, there have been remarkable advancements in mining hardware and practices. Immersion mining, for instance, is the practice of submerging mining rigs in liquid dielectric. These innovations not only make Bitcoin mining more energy-efficient. They also set an example for other energy-intensive industries that rely heavily on computational power, such as AI and machine learning, and the data centers that power consumer juggernauts such as Amazon.  

Beyond the strides it has made in improving its sustainable energy usage, Bitcoin possesses intrinsic value as an asset, not just an industry. At its core, Bitcoin represents a groundbreaking innovation in the realm of digital finance, economic freedom and decentralized systems. Its value lies in its ability to provide secure, transparent, and censorship-resistant transactions, serving as a store of value in a world increasingly reliant on the debasement of currencies. 

Moreover, Bitcoin ensures a degree of digital scarcity previously unattainable. This inherent value proposition, combined with its global adoption and potential to reshape the financial landscape, underscores the importance of the ongoing commitment to enhance its sustainability and efficiency. 

Bitcoin is leading the charge in driving green energy utilization. It stands as a beacon of innovation in the pursuit of a more sustainable future. This industry showcases the vital role technology can play in addressing pressing environmental concerns. 

By harnessing the power of innovation and renewable resources, Bitcoin sets a precedent for a more sustainable and eco-conscious digital era, where economic growth and environmental responsibility can coexist harmoniously. 

Jayson Browder is vice president of policy for Marathon Digital Holdings.  

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