After having been hailed as a champion of sorts by many within the global digital asset market, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped a bombshell on the crypto community earlier in May, backtracking the company’s decision to start accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a means of payment for various automotive sales. The reason cited was that Bitcoin mining processes were too resource-intensive and unsustainable in the long run.
As expected, almost overnight Musk became a heel, especially among Bitcoin maximalists who began calling him a sell-out and a market manipulator. Regardless of the name-calling, the episode did seem to shine a major spotlight on the energy consumption aspect of the crypto mining industry. This is best highlighted by the fact that recently, an increasing number of crypto companies have publicly announced their moves toward the use of greener energy alternatives.
Earlier this month, publicly traded North American Bitcoin mining company Bitfarms revealed that it had been successful in its efforts to power nearly 1.5% of the Bitcoin network using 99% clean energy. Not only that, even the concept of carbon-neutral exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is quickly gaining traction globally, with many major investment management firms, including Toronto-based Ninepoint Partners LP, already taking steps to ensure exactly this.
Lastly, BitMEX, a crypto derivatives trading platform, also recently announced its decision to go carbon neutral, while Marathon Digital Holdings, a United States-based Bitcoin mining firm, hopes to achieve its target of 70% carbon neutrality in the near future.
Is green the only way out?
To get a better sense of whether the mining industry is actually moving toward a greener direction, Cointelegraph reached out to Sam V. Tabar, chief strategy officer for Nasdaq-listed Bitcoin miner Bit Digital and former head of capital strategy for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In his view, the “switch to green” is already happening rapidly across the global mining landscape, adding:
“Many miners have been actively striving for sustainable energy practices, especially publicly listed miners who wish to maximize their returns for shareholders and stakeholders. We believe this is an integral approach to improving our sustainable practices and mitigating our environmental impact.”
When asked about his own company’s sustainability efforts, Tabar highlighted that despite powering nearly 2% of the global Bitcoin network, a vast majority of Bit Digital’s energy comes from carbon-neutral sources such as hydroelectricity, solar energy and other wind-based technologies.
Additionally, he further highlighted that as the industry heads into an increasingly digitized future, more and more firm’s will enlist the services of well known independent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultants to self-monitor, set targets, provide transparency and help improve their percentage of green electricity and other sustainability initiatives.
He added: “We are currently working with independent ESG consultant APEX. By measuring our sustainability and mining footprint, we’re able to develop targets to continuously improve as we continuously shift towards 100% clean energy.”
Could renewable energy actually be cheaper?
Providing his take on the renewable vs fossil fuel debate, Matt Hawkins, CEO of multi-algorithm CPU and GPU miner Cudo, told Cointelegraph that behind the scenes, several major players operating within this space have already started to transition to the use of renewable energy, something that he believes is a positive step forward for the crypto industry as a whole. He further added:
“The reality is, in many cases, that renewable energy is cheaper and therefore more attractive to mining farms, provided that there is stability to this power source that is unaffected by seasonal fluctuations, such as the dry season in China, where mining farms previously moved operations to fossil fuel-powered facilities during the dry…
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