When Bitcoin looks to go ‘green’, some miners see nuclear power as a solution

While bitcoin miners were looking for ways to avoid carbon emissions from their large computers, there were some signs that nuclear power demand was a solution.

“Nuclear power is well suited to supply [power] Alex Gilbert, project manager for the bitcoin Nuclear Innovation Alliance, told CNBC Make It that mining is important.

In fact, Elon Musk, a critic of Bitcoin’s use of energy, recently suggested that nuclear power could be an alternative source of energy for bitcoin mining.

Take a look at Bitcoin’s early signs of interest in nuclear power and see if the trend could have much potential in the future.

As a new ‘green’ energy source for Bitcoin

According to Gilbert, there are a number of partnership announcements between nuclear power companies and bitcoin miners.

In July, micro-nuclear reactor company Oklo and Bitcoin mining company Compass Mining announced a 20-year business partnership.

Formerly based in Akron, Ohio, in July Power Company Energy Ports Corporation has announced that it will supply nuclear power to Standard Power, a new Bitcoin blockchain mining center in Koshok, Ohio, in December 2021.

And Texas- and Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy wants to develop the Cryptocurrency Mining and Information Center near the nuclear power plant in Persia in the second half of 2022.

Although it may be a small start, “the move by bitcoin miners to nuclear-free energy resources reflects the risks posed by the cryptocurrency industry to ensure that its operations are green,” said Gilbert. “In the past, the industry relied heavily on the health effects of service providers and large-scale carbon emissions.

Although it is still a new trend, that may change. “Nuclear energy is one of the many options available to destroy cryptography,” says Gilbert.

Elon Musk explains why nuclear mining could be a good option for bitcoin

In May, Tesla stopped accepting Bitcoin as payment for its vehicles. Musk’s decision to ignore bitcoin’s use of energy was “too subtle” for the electric car company it was commissioning.[accelerate] The advent of sustainable energy, ”he said at a B-word conference at the Crypto Council for Innovation in July.

One option to clean up the energy used by bitcoin is nuclear, says Musk.

“Hydro or geothermal are good as a renewable energy source,” said Musk. I think modern nuclear power plants are better than people think.

The key is to be able to turn on bitcoin regularly – computers that solve puzzles to generate bitcoin. “You have to run 24-7 to run most hashing tools effectively, which means you need a base load,” says Musk.

“Base Load” Power refers to a consistent source of energy, such as nuclear, “uninterrupted,” which sometimes refers to available energy sources, but not always, such as wind or sun.

Musk said Bitcoin miners can use long-term batteries to store energy when wind is not blowing or when the sun is not shining. However, Musk said nuclear power would be a solution for miners looking for a reliable source of clean energy.

Take a closer look at the Mining / Nuclear Agreement – Oaklo and Compass Mining

Artist painting the Oklolo power plant.

Image courtesy Oklo

Among other services, bitcoin mining hardware, which controls and manages Compass Mining, Mimi’s headquarters, currently has 21 bitcoin mining farms where many mining computers are located and monitored. Eight of these farms are partially or completely clean, primarily renewable energy such as wind, solar or hydro, and some nuclear power. Compass plans to increase the number of clean-up facilitators, said Whit Gibbs, the company’s chief executive.

Oaklo co-founder (and wife of DeWitte) Caroline Kokran spoke on the same panel about green mining at an online conference in March, met Gibbs, and their teams followed each other to their partnership.

According to Oaklo and Compass Mining, the partnership could begin in the early 2020s.

Oklo reactors do not power existing compass mines. Instead, they are moving to new facilities with new expansion projects that we are deliberately building alongside Oaklo Reactors.

“Determining the sustainability and green footprint of bitcoin is also a good example of driving a cleaner energy market. It is inevitable that you will see Bitcoin moving to pure sources.

Why do some people say that Bitcoin is not a good solution to clean up energy?

While bitcoin miners have little to do with nuclear companies, it is still in its early days.

“There is no specific information on this, but it may be a very small percentage,” said Alex de Veris, a leading economist at Digiconomist.

And, “I don’t think this is going to be a big trend,” says De Virris.

He recently announced that Nevada-based Black Rock Petroleum has entered into a 24-month binding agreement with an optimistic mining company to handle up to one million bitcoin miners, all of which are backed by natural gas in Alberta, Canada. .

Natural gas emits less than half the carbon dioxide and less carbon or petroleum, but methane is released during natural gas production and transportation. Methane is 25 times more potent on climate change than carbon dioxide.

Under that agreement, wholesale prices (2 cents per kWh or $ 55.55 per month) are “unreliable and generally difficult to compete with nuclear power,” says De Vries.

Mark Bevan, a computer security expert who developed the first method for the Bitcoin Bitcoin power plant, said the cost of large-scale nuclear power plants is now too high. “It is important to point out that the cost of building renewable energy plants is less than the cost of building new nuclear power plants,” Bevand said. So when it comes to expanding existing capacity, renewals are more attractive.

It will also take a lot of time to build a nuclear power plant, and this will make nuclear power less likely to play a significant role in reducing emissions related to Bitcoin mining, said non-profit energy web CEO Jesse Morris.

“Building new nuclear facilities of any size is a challenge,” says Morris. No new nuclear power has been built in the United States recently, so I have some doubts that new nuclear technology will be built in the United States on time and on budget.

According to Morris, the growth of nuclear power generation is more convincing for bitcoin miners than the waste of conventional nuclear power plants. “Recycling old nuclear waste is a great innovation.”

And, according to Gilbert, the best nuclear solution for bitcoin mining is perhaps the use of surplus nuclear power or the use of smaller nuclear power plants that are much faster to build in the future.

“Building new conventional nuclear power plants may not make sense,” Gilbert told CNBC Make It.

However, he said, the use of energy from existing plants is straightforward and could be a source of life for nuclear power plants. “Some of those existing plants will be shut down without revenue and replaced by fossil fuels. Similarly, microcontrollers can be built relatively quickly and work with mining resources, growing alongside the crypto industry.

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