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  1. #26
    W4A1 143 43CK? Nbadan's Avatar
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    Why Bitcoin Is Bad for the Environment
    Cryptocurrency mining uses huge amounts of power—and can be as destructive as the real thing.


    According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, bitcoin-mining operations worldwide now use energy at the rate of nearly a hundred and twenty terawatt-hours per year. This is about the annual domestic electricity consumption of the entire nation of Sweden. According to the Web site Digiconomist, a single bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power that the average American household consumes in a month, and is responsible for roughly a million times more carbon emissions than a single Visa transaction. At a time when the world desperately needs to cut carbon emissions, does it make sense to be devoting a Sweden’s worth of electricity to a virtual currency? The answer would seem, pretty clearly, to be no. And, yet, here we are.

    The Greenidge Generating Station in Dresden, New York, sits on the shores of Seneca Lake, about an hour southeast of Rochester. It was originally built in the nineteen-thirties to run on coal; over the decades, new units were added and older ones shuttered. The power station ceased operations in 2011, and it sat idle until it was purchased by a private-equity firm and converted to run on natural gas. In 2017, under the ownership of Greenidge Generation Holdings, the plant reportedly began operating as a “peaker plant,” to provide power to the grid during times of high demand. (A spokesperson noted that the plant “is permitted to run 24/7.”) Then, in 2019, it was announced that the plant would power bitcoin mining.

  2. #27
    W4A1 143 43CK? Nbadan's Avatar
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    In the United States, home to about seven per cent of the world’s bitcoin mining, finding cheap power can be complicated. A few years ago, miners “descended upon” the city of Plattsburgh, New York, about a hundred and fifty miles north of Albany, which gets much of its electricity from hydroelectric dams on the St. Lawrence River. The power is relatively inexpensive, but, once Plattsburgh uses up its allotment, it has to purchase more at higher rates. Bitcoin mining drove up the cost of electricity in the city so dramatically that, in 2018, Plattsburgh enacted a moratorium on new mining operations.

    Buying a generating station, as Greenidge Generation Holdings has done, is a way around the problem. Let others pay retail; Greenidge now gets its power “behind the meter.” The firm recently announced that it was going public, via a merger with a Nasdaq-listed company called Support.com, and boasted that it “expects to be the first publicly traded bitcoin mining company with a wholly-owned power plant.” In the announcement, Greenidge said that it was planning to more than double its bitcoin-mining operations in Dresden by the fall of 2021, and to double them again by the end of 2022. It further declared that it intends to “replicate its vertically integrated mining model at other power sites.”

    To expand its operations in Dresden, Greenidge will have to burn more and more natural gas, thus producing correspondingly more greenhouse-gas emissions. The firm’s plans have sparked demonstrations in the Finger Lakes region. On Saturday, a hundred protesters marched to the gates of the plant.

  3. #28
    W4A1 143 43CK? Nbadan's Avatar
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    Whether this is, in fact, the case is debatable. What’s beyond debate—or should be, at least—is that this is a matter that shouldn’t be left to a local planning board to decide. There’s no way for New York, or the U.S. as a whole, to meet its emissions-reductions goals if old generating stations, rather than being closed, are converted into bitcoin-mining operations. Greenidge may become the first mining firm with a “wholly-owned power plant,” but, unless the state or federal government steps in, it won’t be the last: another cryptocurrency firm, Digihost International, has already applied to New York State’s Public Service Commission for permission to purchase a natural-gas-burning station near Buffalo. As representatives of Earthjustice and the Sierra Club recently put it, in a letter to officials of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, “additional scrutiny . . . is essential to prevent the floodgates opening for other retiring power plants.”

  4. #29
    Savvy Veteran spurraider21's Avatar
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