Why Did 200 Bitcoin Miners and Oil & Gas Execs Just Have a Secret Meeting in Houston?

Bitcoin has a well-known downside, even when many bitcoin followers wish to ignore it or faux it isn’t actual. The downside is that bitcoin mining makes use of an unlimited quantity of electrical energy. It’s not a great amount, and truly possibly it’s not even an unlimited quantity — it’s an absurd quantity.

Naturally, individuals who just like the idea are desirous to brush it off by saying that bitcoin miners can simply use renewable power — photo voltaic and wind are most cost-effective now anyway for brand new energy manufacturing, proper? However, that misses a few factors. There’s solely a lot photo voltaic PV and wind turbine manufacturing capability, and rising manufacturing capability takes years, and wants clear indicators. Production wants to extend quickly and it has been rising quickly, however that elevated manufacturing is required to keep away from or flip off fossil gasoline energy crops. Every single severe plan for decreasing emissions an enough quantity by 2030 includes chopping power use — chopping it a lot. We have to retire coal and fossil methane* energy crops yesterday (*aka “pure gasoline,” however we’re beginning to drop using this time period right here on CleanTechnica because it’s a greenwashing time period). We want new photo voltaic and wind energy crops to come back on-line to try this. Even if bitcoin miners began gobbling up photo voltaic panels and wind generators to energy their mining, that will imply these cleantech energy crops could be much less out there for different markets and these different markets could be powered by fossil fuels longer.

Sure, in 2050, go for it in order for you! Go crypto loopy. But we have to shut down a whole bunch of fossil energy crops in the 2020s, and we are able to’t be delaying that simply because some individuals don’t wish to belief the federal governments and organizations that handle financial coverage in the present day.

But let’s get again to the story. It’s a fascinating one.

With their huge, huge power wants**, bitcoin miners have been identified to make use of monumental quantities of coal energy, notably in China (**and no, that is nothing just like the power wants of ATMs — which I don’t suppose I’ve used in ~10 years — or on-line banking; it’s much more power use on a per-transaction foundation). As the bitcoin market grows, it wants to search out extra and extra energy around the globe, and meaning extra and extra soiled energy. That brings us to the information. Recently, 200 bitcoin miners and oil & gasoline execs reportedly met in a personal setting in Houston, Texas. CleanTechnica wasn’t invited, so we are able to’t say for certain if this was about getting extra energy provide for mining, if it was about funding alternatives of some type, if it was about money-hiding techniques to keep away from paying taxes, or if it was simply a benevolent assembly to speak sports activities, climate, and pumpkin spice lattes. However, reporting from CNBC signifies it was primarily about the very first thing — getting soiled electrical energy to energy extra bitcoin mining.

“On a residential again road of Houston, in a 150,000 square-foot warehouse safeguarding high-end classic vehicles, 200 oil and gasoline execs and bitcoin miners mingled, drank beer, and talked store on a latest Wednesday evening in August,” CNBC reported final week. “One large matter of dialogue: Using ‘stranded’ pure gasoline to energy bitcoin mining rigs, which each reduces greenhouse gasoline emissions and makes cash for the gasoline suppliers, in addition to the miners.”

Let’s decide aside that final sentence, as a result of it’s the important one and the second half of it is unnecessary. “Stranded property” in this context should not energy crops which can be not aggressive (although, a few of them have been revived or saved alive to energy bitcoin mining). Bitcoin mining is bringing financial viability again to a dying fossil-power-plant market in one other manner. What is being tapped, in accordance with the article, is in any other case unused fossil methane at oil websites. Notably, utilizing that “stranded methane” is making oil drilling extra economical, and making it simpler to maintain promoting deceptively low cost oil. There is nothing good about this. And that’s not the top of the environmental catastrophe. The manner this stranded methane is being burned can be extraordinarily inefficient and dangerous for our local weather.

Bitcoin isn’t a joke. It’s a huge, insane local weather catastrophe.

Here are a few extra selection quotes from the CNBC story:

Just take Hayden Griffin Haby III, an oilman turned bitcoiner. The Texas native and father of three has spent 14 years in oil and gasoline, and he epitomizes what this month-to-month meetup is all about. 

Haby began as a floor landman the place he brokered land contracts, and later, ran his personal oil firm. But for the final 9 months, he’s completely been in the enterprise of mining bitcoin. … [H]e co-founded Limpia Creek Technologies, which powers bitcoin mining rigs with flared, vented, and stranded pure gasoline property.

Bitcoin miners care most about discovering low cost sources of electrical energy, so Texas – with its crypto-friendly politicians, deregulated energy grid, and crucially, abundance of cheap energy sources – is a nearly good match. The union turns into much more harmonious when miners join their rigs to in any other case stranded power, like pure gasoline going to waste on oil fields throughout Texas.

“I simply knew Houston could be prime to blow up due to the power connection to mining – if we organized a good meetup,” [Parker] Lewis instructed CNBC. “It’s additionally key to Texas being the bitcoin capital of the world.”

Capturing extra and in any other case wasted pure gasoline from drilling websites and then utilizing that power to mine bitcoin continues to be firmly in the class of avant-garde tech.

The article famous that this assembly and the bitcoin miner rush to Texas had been triggered in massive half by China kicking bitcoin miners out. As famous beforehand, bitcoin miners have been utilizing an unlimited quantity of coal energy, principally in China. The plan for a lot of of them now appears clear: neglect about Chinese coal, simply swap to low cost fossil gasoline energy in Texas.

Anyone who thinks bitcoin isn’t an environmental and local weather disaster isn’t paying consideration or is placing on some significantly handicapping blinders. Switching to such an enormously power intensive funding software (as a result of, come on, nobody is spending bitcoin prefer it’s money cash) isn’t just a mistake. It’s basically a crime in opposition to humanity. Human society is digging the graves of thousands and thousands or billions of individuals due to catchphrases and fanciful idealistic considering. No cryptocurrency goes to wipe out wealth inequality or resolve the world’s issues. All I’m seeing thus far is that it’s creating larger issues. (Side observe: the cult-like obsession with crypto can be a bit annoying on social media and varied boards across the interwebs, and there is no such thing as a doubt a ridiculous quantity of bot exercise and propaganda pumping.)

Oh, and I haven’t even gotten to what appears to be the worst half but. The manner that a lot of this fossil methane is being burned is about as inefficient because it will get. The “miners” are utilizing turbines. Here’s extra:

“Chemistry is wonderful,” defined Adam Ortolf, who heads up enterprise growth in the U.S. for Upstream Data, a firm that manufactures and provides moveable mining options for oil and gasoline services.

“When CH4, or methane, combusts, the one exhaust is CO2 and H2O vapor. That’s actually the identical factor that comes out of my mouth once I exhale,” continued Ortolf.

But Ortolf factors out, flares are solely 75 to 90% environment friendly. “Even with a flare, a few of the methane is being vented with out being combusted,” he mentioned.

This is when on-site bitcoin mining can show to be particularly impactful.

When the methane is run into an engine or generator, 100% of the methane is combusted and none of it leaks or vents into the air, in accordance with Ortolf.

“But no person will run it by way of a generator except they’ll make cash, as a result of turbines value cash to accumulate and keep,” he mentioned. “So except it’s economically sustainable, producers gained’t internally combust the gasoline.”

“This is the very best present the oil and gasoline business may’ve gotten,” mentioned Ortolf. “They had been leaving a lot of hydrocarbons on the desk, however now, they’re not restricted by geography to promote power.”

Somehow, the CNBC article tries to spin this as a good factor environmentally. I assume the reporter doesn’t know something in regards to the matter and simply purchased the bitcoin miners/oil & gasoline guys’ illogical speaking factors. Perhaps they even now suppose that the great CO2 emissions we’re flooding our environment with will simply result in extra timber and bushes.

Featured picture courtesy of Pixabay/Pexels (CC0)


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About the Author: Daniel