Large-scale bitcoin mining is hampered by the difficulty of locating low-cost electricity to operate the massive computer clusters required to create and transact in cryptocurrencies.
Environmentalists are concerned about an innovative solution used by a mining business in central New York. It has its own on-site nuclear reactor.
To power 15,300 computer servers, Greenidge Generation uses an abandoned plant near Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region. It also distributes extra electricity into New York’s power grid.
More than 35,000 houses may be powered by megawatts dedicated to Bitcoin.
Others see it as a cost-effective means to mine cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and other digital currencies that are becoming more popular.
The plant is viewed as a climatic concern by environmentalists.
Fossil fuel plants that have been revived for private profit rather than public benefit worry them. Greenidge’s opponents see it as a test case. Therefore they’re asking for a halt to similar projects by refusing to renew the plant’s air quality permit.
Because of the climate crisis, Earthjustice attorney Liz Moran argues that cryptocurrency mining must stop. Our ability to reach our climate targets is in jeopardy. We’ve set the bar high for the rest of the country.
To meet the growing demand for electricity in this tourist area noted for glacial lakes and Riesling wines, Greenidge upgraded the previous coal plant to use natural gas in 2017. The 106-megawatt plant began mining bitcoins in earnest last year. According to the company’s statement, a “piece of the digital future of the planet” would be brought to upstate New York.
Greenidge said in a prepared statement: “For decades, our region has been told it will see new businesses and opportunities. It’s happening, and it’s happening in full compliance with the state’s nation-leading rigorous environmental regulations. “
To mine bitcoins, you must solve a series of increasingly complex problems. To answer these problems, you’ll need a lot more computing power as the value of Bitcoin increases. The amount of energy that Bitcoin consumes varies depending on who you ask.
According to Greenidge, the company mined 729 bitcoins in the three months that ended on September 30th. On Friday, one bitcoin was worth more than USD 59,000, indicating that the value of cryptocurrencies swings daily.
A group of people opposed to the plant believes that Greenidge is using the application process as a ruse for a mining activity that will consume more of the power generated by the facility.
Greenidge claims mining was not a part of the plant’s reopening plans and points out that it still supplies electricity to the grid. Greenidge said that it used 58% of its electricity for mining from January to June.
Those in favor see it as a win-win situation for a region of upstate New York that desperately needs the boost it provides. The company has brought 45 well-paying jobs to the county and made a “substantial contribution” to the community through tax payments and capital improvements, said Douglas Paddock, chairman of the Yates County Legislature.
The plant’s water withdrawals from Seneca Lake are a point of contention for some opponents. However, as the Department of Environmental Conservation examines the plant’s air emission licenses, concerns about air quality have risen to the fore.
With the purchase of carbon offset projects like forestry initiatives and landfill methane capture projects, Greenidge has claimed compliance with its licenses and a 100 percent carbon-neutral plant.
According to the plant’s detractor, reducing greenhouse gas emissions considerably in the future decades will be undermined by state climate legislation enacted in 2019.
This week, a broad coalition of environmental and other organizations petitioned Governor Kathy Hochul to revoke Greenidge’s air permit and take similar steps to prevent an existing factory in Buffalo from turning into a mining site.
Coalition members hope that Hochul will set a “national precedent” by prohibiting bitcoin miners from using “proof of work,” which consumes a lot of energy.
An estimated 30 New York factories might be turned into mining operations, according to environmentalists.
Judith Enck, the former EPA regional administrator for the northeastern United States under President Barack Obama, stated, “I really think this plant is a critical test for whether the state’s climate law is really worth anything.”
Separately, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have asked the EPA to exert supervision.
Other power stations in the country are being used for bitcoin mining in various ways.
A coal waste-to-power producing plant in Venango County, Pennsylvania, is being utilized to mine bitcoins and back up the grid.
A similar operation will be replicated at two additional Pennsylvania locations by Stronghold Digital Mining.
Marathon Digital Holdings has signed a power purchase agreement with a coal-fired generating station in Montana. It will provide all of its electricity for bitcoin mining in exchange for a fee.
Previously, Marathon CEO Fred Thiel explained, “we did what many miners do: find an industrial building, set it up for mining, and then contract for grid electricity.”
Because of the abundance of underutilized energy-producing resources in the United States, we decided to turn the model on its head.
For Thiel, low-emission coal and pollution controls are the key factors, and the facility will be carbon-neutral by next year.
Cryptocurrency miners, he said, can provide crucial financial incentives for the development of more clean energy projects.
Greenidge’s permits are still pending in New York State.
Even if the plant operates at total capacity, Greenidge estimates that its greenhouse gas emissions will only account for a minuscule 0.23 percent of the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goal.
However, according to a tweet from New York’s Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos, “Greenidge has not proved compliance with NY’s climate law” based on the law’s aims.
Cryptocurrency mining can generate additional greenhouse gas emissions, according to Seggos, who made the announcement in advance. “New York State is leading on climate change,” he added.