Bitcoin saw plenty of ups and downs in 2022, but one particular win was the growing acknowledgement that Bitcoin is good for humanity’s relationship with energy and the environment. Is it possible 2023 is the year energy FUD around Bitcoin finally dies?
Kent Halliburton is the president and chief operating officer of Sazmining. This article is part of CoinDesk's Crypto 2023.
Green bitcoiners enter
So-called “green bitcoiners” made themselves heard over the past 12 months, and they’ve brought novel ideas to the fore. Troy Cross, professor of philosophy at Reed College in Oregon and fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute, has broached several ideas on bitcoin (BTC) mining and energy with which bitcoiners are still wrestling.
Together with Yale-NUS professor of philosophy Andrew Bailey, Cross has been arguing that bitcoiners have a sort of moral duty to uphold related to bitcoin and the environment. They say their ideas is a “way to invest in bitcoin without contributing, even slightly, to unsustainable bitcoin mining.” (Their white paper came out in late 2021, but gained traction in 2022.)
Meanwhile, Cleantech investor Daniel Batten put together groundbreaking research into bitcoin mining, and may have found a way to put a significant dent in humanity's methane problem. Batten has explained through careful calculations how and why bitcoin mining is the only available technology that can mitigate humanity’s methane emissions at scale.
Finally, in 2022 Jason Maier crowdfunded and wrote his book, “A Progressive’s Case for Bitcoin.” He makes the case that Bitcoin is, contrary to critics, a net positive for the environment.
Dawn of green companies
In 2022, several bitcoin-focused companies launched with a mandate of proving the viability that the Bitcoin blockchain could contribute to fighting climate change through competition and free markets. Synota, for instance, was founded this year and raised a $3 million seed round to pursue its mission.
The company’s platform allows energy companies and their customers to trade energy and money more frequently and with less friction than traditional payment rails allow. It’s a use that may “promote global energy abundance by integrating Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and energy,” they write.
Read more: The More Energy Bitcoin Uses, the Better
Did you hear of the company that converts landfill waste into BTC? Vespene launched this year, and uses methane emissions from landfill as fuel to power bitcoin miners, putting into practice what Batten theorized. In August, it closed a $4.3 million funding round to continue its pioneering project into carbon-negative mining.
Finally, Jack Dorsey’s digital payments company, Block, and Alyse Killeen’s VC firm, Stillmark, recently invested in a company that builds out renewable bitcoin mining sites in parts of Africa that have excess power. Still at the seed stage, Gridless, in 2023, plans to launch a hydro mining site in Malawi and a solar-powered mining site in West Africa.
Admittedly, critics of the Bitcoin network’s energy consumption and environmental impact have made a meaningful dent on adoption. For some, the network has become synonymous with wasted electricity and electronics waste. But the situation is changing fast.
Just as when China's President Xi banned crypto he only helped prove how unstoppable the Bitcoin network is, Bitcoin’s environmental critics are fostering a green revolution that will show how adaptable and sustainable Bitcoin can be. The meteoric rise of fresh research, voices and visions of what Bitcoin could be demonstrate this.
Bitcoin can and will be a net positive for energy and the environment. In 2023, as “green Bitcoin” research and industry continue to break new ground, energy and environmental FUD will no longer be tenable.