Cryptominers defend gigawatt-scale energy usage called out by Congress – TechCrunch

Citing “troubling” levels of power used by cryptocurrency miners, a group of Democrats led by Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to crack down on the controversial industry.

The letter, signed by four senators and two representatives, calls on regulators to force cryptominers to disclose their carbon emissions and energy use. Environmentalists have long raised concerns about bitcoin and other power-hungry proof-of-stake tokens — and globally, cryptocurrencies are estimated to use more energy than entire countries like Venezuela and Finland.

In the US, only seven firms have built more than 1,045 gigawatts of capacity for cryptomining purposes, the report said; “That’s enough capacity to power all homes in Houston, Texas.” The mining farms highlighted in the report are operated by Stronghold, Greenidge, Bit Digital, Bitfury, Bitdeer, Marathon, and Riot.

Although the 2022 crypto winter may spur some miners to scale back operations, lawmakers argue that the industry as a whole will grow rapidly and will “likely be problematic for energy and emissions.” Still, they warn that “little is known about the full scope of cryptomining activity.” Hence their demand for more data.

In response to legislation, companies downplayed industry as a source of emissions from cooking. Nevertheless, they highlighted their individual efforts to reduce emissions and develop renewable sources.

Marathon cited his work “with energy companies to build clean, green, renewable energy resources (e.g., solar and wind) that might otherwise not be built.” However, the bulk of the power being tapped by Marathon currently comes from a coal-fired power plant in Hardin, Montana.

Similarly, Riot argued that “Bitcoin mining is driving more demand for renewable energy than the typical US energy consumer,” emphasizing New York State’s use of hydroelectric power. However, Riot’s Rockdale, Texas, facilities have nearly seven times the capacity and draw power from the state grid. Texas generated most of its energy from non-renewable sources last year (51% from natural gas and 13.4% from coal).

Speaking of coal, Stronghold told lawmakers it is “actively working to clean up coal waste piles and turn coal waste into energy.” Coal mining waste is an environmental nightmare and cleaning it up is a good idea. Burning waste coal, on the other hand, still results in harmful emissions, although scrubbers can reduce the worst impacts.

Blockfusion and Bitdeer meanwhile pointed to the use of software to minimize the load on the energy grids.

Though the letter is critical of crypto, for the US to meet its 2030 net emissions target, the bulk of near-term US emissions cuts must come from the power and transportation sectors, according to researchers at Electric Power Research Institute. In April last year, the White House said it aims to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

DC remains virtually deadlocked on climate legislation, but Democratic lawmakers unnamed Sen. Joe Manchin have recently attempted to cut emissions through tax credits, which could boost both renewable energy production and electric car sales. In a June interview with TechCrunch, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said passing clean energy tax credits this summer is “the surest way” for the US. Cryptominers defend gigawatt-scale energy usage called out by Congress – TechCrunch

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