[Discussion] Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency! Either it's going to disrupt everything and usher in a new era of artistic and consumer freedom, or it'll hasten the climate apocalypse while largely benefitting a tiny number of investors. Let's yell about it!

New use case for Bitcoin?

No. Still speculating.

I believe the surge is primarily due to regulators approving BTC ETFs. That's what's making bigger investors hoover up more BTC.

It'll crash again, and the dumb money is gonna pay.

No!

Money down!

Can Bitcoin mining really support renewable energy?

A new study finds that Bitcoin mining paired with green hydrogen could help speed up a transition to clean energy — an eyebrow-raising claim, considering strong evidence that the cryptocurrency is a big polluter.

To avoid any misconceptions, The Verge spoke with researchers to understand the very narrow scenarios in which this concept might work, and possible pitfalls given the complicated reality of Bitcoin mining.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, calls Bitcoin and green hydrogen fuel a “dynamic duo” no less than seven times. It envisions an ideal scenario in which the profits of Bitcoin mining are used to invest in clean hydrogen production and renewable energy.

The devil is in the details. Bitcoin would have to be mined using clean energy. And a big caveat in the study is that it proposes that energy companies or climate groups do the mining, not your average Bitcoin miner that has no financial incentive to deploy more renewable energy onto the grid. In fact, for this to take place, there would need to be policies in place to ensure that funds earned from Bitcoin mining are actually spent on clean energy.

“It all depends on who uses [Bitcoin] — just the same as a knife. We could use it for a meal, we could also use it as a weapon, right?” says Fengqi You, one of the authors of the paper and a professor in energy systems engineering at Cornell University. “In this context, we are not going to mine Bitcoin as the open market trading currency at all.”

Bitcoin mining operations are estimated to produce nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as the country of Morocco. Bitcoin mines are data farms filled with specialized hardware that solve computational puzzles around the clock for a chance to validate new transactions on the blockchain. They earn Bitcoin as a reward, the price of which has recently spiked above $70,000.

The new study offers a potential scenario: why not spend those profits to spur growth in solar and wind energy? It proposes doing that in a roundabout way using an intermediary: green hydrogen, which is made with renewable energy (as opposed to a majority of the hydrogen that is on the market today, which is made with fossil fuels).

The challenge with solar and wind is that they’re intermittent energy sources that fluctuate throughout the day and year. You could solve this problem with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, but they haven’t advanced enough to be very efficient for long-term energy storage. That’s where green hydrogen and Bitcoin mining might step in, the study posits.

The authors call hydrogen and Bitcoin “energy carriers.” When solar and wind are used to make green hydrogen, that hydrogen stores or ‘carries’ the energy as fuel that can be used later — even when the wind dies down and the sun doesn’t shine. Bitcoin, if used to purchase green hydrogen and / or support the deployment of more solar and wind farms, could be considered a virtual energy carrier, according to this paper.

You says it would be like using Bitcoin as a gift card to spend on clean energy. Policies would have to put guardrails in place so that the money isn’t spent on anything else, similar to a gift card that’s only valid at a specific store. The system could expand solar capacity by up to 25.5 percent and wind capacity by up to 73.2 percent in the US, according to the paper.

But that’s contingent on a lot of hypothetical scenarios. In the real world, it would be tough to replicate. Opening up and operating a Bitcoin mine doesn’t come cheap; traditional Bitcoin mines run around the clock to recoup their costs and turn a profit.

“They’re not thinking very far into the future,” Joshua Rhodes, a research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin and a non-resident fellow at Columbia University, said of Bitcoin mining firms. “They’re running things as fast and as crazy as they can right now to get the money in right now and not really interested more so in the long-term, decade-long investment cycles something like this requires.”

Utilities would face steep starting costs to mine Bitcoin, and would be saddled with more limitations if they want to support clean energy.

Rhodes, who is also a founding partner for the consulting firm IdeaSmiths, worked on an analysis for the crypto mining company Lancium in 2021. It found that Bitcoin mines that want to incentivize renewable energy growth would have to power down around 15 percent of the year, whenever wind and solar power generation are low, to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity consumption.

Bitcoin companies in Texas, a hotspot for mining where Rhodes’ analysis was conducted, have paused mining in the past, but only because they were paid. The state’s grid operator has paid crypto miners tens of millions of dollars in energy credits to prevent blackouts during electricity demand peaks and supply shortages. The program has perpetuated the idea that Bitcoin can provide the same energy storage benefits as a battery, even though there’s little motive to curtail mining without financial incentives.

Ultimately, Bitcoin can only ever be compared to half a battery, Rhodes says. Energy goes in, but it doesn’t come out. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to call Bitcoin an energy carrier,” Rhodes tells The Verge. “You can maybe make an argument for it to be called an enabler, which is I think what they’re trying to do here, but the idea of calling it an energy carrier perpetuates the thought that you can get energy out of this thing somehow, which is not possible.”

The kind of articles that get written when Bitcoin is over $60k.

Let’s see this article appear when Bitcoin sheds $20k of its value almost overnight.

Tying a long term energy project to Bitcoin valuation, how could that possibly ever go bad?

It really just boils down to "invest in green energy production" and the only thing Bitcoin does is provide the funds. Bitcoin isn't necessary for it all, just feels like it was thrown in so it could get bitcoin bros something to point to as a reason why it's not a horrible waste (conveniently ignoring that they absolutely won't re-invest their bitcoin earnings into green energy production like the paper requires them to for the idea to work).

Also, "Bitcoin could be a game-changer for clean energy! All we have to do is make it so that you can only mine it with clean energy, and you can only use the money you get from it to buy more clean energy!"

You could also say the same thing for, for example, coal, or natural gas, or oil. You have to use clean energy to get it out of the ground, and then any profit you make from it has to go to clean energy production, and not into executive and shareholder pockets. What a game-changer that would be!

Good luck passing any of that, including the initial proposal.

Prederick wrote:

Can Bitcoin mining really support renewable energy?

Bitcoin mining paired with green hydrogen

Libertarian bullsh*t magic.

Hilarious.

Famous for their support of collective efforts, all them CoinBros are going to race to have the strong arm of The Leviathan force their precious funny money support the environment.

The clarion call of Libertarians everywhere: For altruism!

Another thing to consider is that green hydrogen is still a bit of a unicorn. Hydrogen producers want governments to regulate and pay for infrastructure for the renewable energy used to create green hydrogen via electrolysis. Several articles I read say that currently, green hydrogen is only a fraction of a percent of hydrogen production.

It's expensive. And the industry wants subsidies.

Like pretty much everything associated with Bitcoin, the whole notion of "green Bitcoin" is a scam to get other people to pay for the means of production of Bitcoin.

Hahaha.

You plebes get us set up, and then we'll go ahead and "earn" all the profits!

SBF gets 25 years.

It doesn't matter, because he's been obviously wrong about so much, but remember when Elon said SBF wouldn't see any consequences for what happened because he's a Dem donor?

The “Dem donor” thing was always stupid anyway. FTX dumped money into both parties, they simply split up which co-founder was sending to who. SBF sent money largely to Democrats, while Ryan Salame was sending cash to Republicans.

He probably could have gotten more. He messed up a lot of people's lives.

Robear wrote:

He definitely should have gotten more. He messed up a lot of people's lives.

FTFY.

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