Will green Bitcoin mining make big profits? Bitcoin mining created waves in the finance industry right from its initial days when it was done by a handful of people and was considered to be a hobby of the wealthy.
At that time, even a home desktop computer was enough to mine Bitcoin and that did not need a huge amount of electricity as well.
Over time, Bitcoin mining became a craze and more and more people from all over the world started taking part in it resulting in a fierce competition.
This required high computational power and energy which became the concerns of the governments, environmentalists, and the crypto industry on the whole.
They thought that Bitcoin mining is wasting resources and energy which are already short.
Moreover, with excessive use of energy, carbon footprint, and electronic waste, it is causing serious harm to the environment.
Governments of a few specific countries banned Bitcoin mining and other crypto transactions, like China, while others started to regulate it, like in the US and Europe.
The crypto industry itself also started to take notice of it and made a few changes here and there.
The most significant of all is their focus now on ‘Green Bitcoin Mining.’
This is their effort to give clean crypto to the people and save the world from the harms of mining.
A new group of US miners are now looking for alternative sources of renewable energy to use for mining purposes to develop a green and lucrative fortune.
How far they are successful is the question which this article will answer.
Will Green Bitcoin Mining Make Big Profits?
Along with the ostensible benefits offered by Bitcoin, there is also a serious downside of this digital currency.
It causes severe environmental disaster, especially through the mining process.
When more and more miners are attracted towards Bitcoin mining due to the higher price and profitability, this particular global network consumes continuous power anywhere between 8 Giga Watts and 15 Giga Watts, according to a Cambridge study.
Just to keep you informed, and surprised, the entire New York City uses only 6 Giga Watts of power and the whole nation of Belgium needs only 10 Giga Watts of power!
Then, there is the carbon emission factor in Bitcoin mining.
The exact amount of carbon that is released into the air due to Bitcoin mining cannot be said precisely because it largely depends on the type of energy source used.
However, the pollution caused by Bitcoin mining is not negligible and cannot be ignored.
A significant concern regarding Bitcoin mining is its requirement for high energy, which is not a bug but a feature of it.
Just as it is true that some of this energy is essential to validate a transaction, which is all about mining crypto, it is also true that a major part of it is wasted.
This is because only the first miner to solve the complex mathematical problem is rewarded, which means that the efforts of others are rendered useless, just as their energy consumption.
This seems to be a serious flaw of the crypto mining mechanism.
The reason behind it seems to be the Proof of Work or the PoW consensus protocol which is an expensive process, both financially and otherwise, that creates an artificial scarcity.
However, it does eliminate the chances of manipulating the market.
According to Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, the situation with Bitcoin mining is very much the same as mining gold.
Both are waste but that waste is far too insignificant when compared to the utility of gold as a medium of exchange.
Therefore, the marginal cost of mining tends to stay close to the price of the product mined.
This means that the utility of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange exceeds the cost and waste of electricity by quite a significant margin.
However, analysts think that the entire mechanism could have been designed in an entirely different way.
There are lots of other types of crypto coins such as Ethereum, Cardano, Stellar, and others that are modified and use a significantly less amount of energy as compared to Bitcoin mining.
Ethereum, for example, is poised to change from PoW to PoS system which will cut energy consumption by as much as 99.95%.
There are also a few other crypto coins like Candela which runs on a protocol that allows mining using solar power.
However, Bitcoin does not seem to go anywhere and it is also quite unlikely that it will be less energy-intensive anytime soon.
In fact, as of now, it takes a million times more energy to register a Bitcoin transaction as compared to the energy consumption of a transaction made on the Visa network.
Still, the supporters of Bitcoin say that the new Lightning network will make Bitcoin much more efficient but it is to be seen as to how green it will be down the lane.
Luckily, the free market is coming to the rescue with new wind and solar projects being constructed which will produce far more electricity to fill the demand of the Bitcoin miners.
However, there is a problem with this type of energy.
In the events of summer heat waves and ice storms, there can be a sudden surge in energy production which can be so ferocious that the operators have to give away power.
In such situations the Bitcoin miners can act as a shock absorber due to their demand response contracts, if any.
According to this contract, they buy up excess energy, and when there is a shortage of supply, they shut off their mining operations to release power back to the grid, all in exchange for rebates.
This not only makes the functioning of the grids much better but also makes Bitcoin mining much more profitable by lowering the operating costs.
Therefore, wind and solar power systems are the answer for a safer and greener environment with improved carbon economics and reduced emissions.
Even mitigating flaring of gas emitted in the oil fields will also prove to be a good source of energy for Bitcoin mining which will reduce the cost of mining being a cheaper alternative energy.
Though there are some businesses and operational complexities in such types of energy production, if that can be done away with, energy consumption will be almost half and the world will become a better and greener place to live in with low carbon emission.
All other sources will be a much tougher call.
A lot of companies have started to focus on this green journey and several have already started functioning.
However, the picture is not so ‘green’ after all.
Using these alternative sources of energy will not eliminate the need for cooling the systems which will generate a huge amount of heat during operation, as always.
This will need millions of gallons of water and cooling agents.
The water will become hot after use and will need to be released to a water body which will increase its temperature by several degrees.
With millions of gallons of hot water released, it will become a hot water tub or a giant fish blender.
Local environmentalists are worried about it because it will also lower the oxygen levels and result in an algae bloom.
Therefore, considering all these aspects, the environmentalists think that going green may be profitable for the Bitcoin miners but it will not eliminate the harmful consequences fully.
And, this problem is real.
Can Crypto be Really Environmentally Friendly?
The concerning factors about Bitcoin mining raises one significant question: will it be environmentally friendly and attuned to the climate targets ever being so energy hungry?
Several hydropower plants have now started green crypto mining operations making the best use of the surplus renewable power.
Since crypto mining consumes a lot of energy, it seems the best option to convert green energy into currency.
Most of the miners across the United States in particular are jumping into the green Bitcoin mining bandwagon.
Most of the big crypto mining companies are boasting of their ‘green’ operations and marketing it aggressively.
The renewable source of power plays a significant role in crypto mining since it is the cheapest source of power.
In fact, about 75% of the total energy consumed for Bitcoin mining comes from renewable sources, according to a CoinShares report.
The governments are also considering this move by the Bitcoin miners to be useful for the miners and beneficial for the environment.
In fact, countries like Brazil are contemplating on offering tax exemptions to companies that are engaged in crypto mining by using renewable power.
In order to minimize the waste of energy and carbon emission during Bitcoin mining, a lot of companies from all over the world have signed on a Crypto Climate Accord and committed to a net-zero operation by the end of 2030.
They intend to do so primarily by switching their operations by using renewable power sources.
However, this may not be a win-win solution, as some environmentalists and economists believe, to clean the ‘dirty’ currency.
There are even a few staunch Bitcoin supporters and experts who believe that spending the precious renewable energy on something less worthy as random computation in crypto mining instead on other sectors that offer employment and other significant benefits may cause a lot of problems down the lane.
Maybe as a result, the Chinese government banned all types of activities related to crypto in 2021.
Also, due to the huge energy requirement in crypto mining, Sweden too called on the European Union to prohibit crypto mining saying that it uses renewable power that could have been used in other sectors to decarbonize them and made it easier to meet the climate targets.
There seems to be a lot of good reasons to switch to green Bitcoin mining, especially for those countries with surplus power that can export it, provided the infrastructure supports exporting and importing the same, as the case may be.
As said earlier, Bitcoin mining can help in converting energy into currency without the need for any physical power grids.
It is for this reason several private energy providers are following this trend.
When the Bitcoin mines operate on renewable energy instead of traditional power, it will also stabilize the grid by scaling the mining operations up or down in order to balance the power supply as and when required.
This will not only help the energy producers but will also facilitate the development of renewable power and reduce the need for fossil fuels.
However, the green crypto revolution does not seem to have much of an impact on carbon footprint.
This is because most of the countries still depend on coal and gas for power supply.
It is therefore needed to have a crypto model in the first place that will be more energy efficient.
This will then make it possible for green mining to clean up the carbon footprint of Bitcoin in the long run when more and more companies move on to renewable energy usage.
The crypto experts suggest using the PoS model instead of PoW model for solving computations.
This will eliminate the hardware competition since the miners will have to stake their own coins to engage in transactions rather than in a competition to solve complex mathematical computations.
With simply using a device with an internet connection, the energy requirement can be reduced by as much as 10,000 points.
However, the good news is that with the movement starting to take shape already, it is just a matter of time when Bitcoin will transform from dirty to green.
Ethereum is planning to do it, and so should other coins, especially Bitcoin, the experts think.
This will also help the energy sector to find a new market for electricity and therefore increase the profitability chances of both the Bitcoin industry and the energy sector.
Moving Towards Renewable Energy
The fact that Bitcoin mining results in huge amounts of carbon emissions is a serious concern for the environmentalists.
However, the good news is that crypto mining is going green with every passing day.
Ethereum, the second largest coin after Bitcoin, has started moving from PoW consensus to PoS protocol.
This will result in a significant drop in the use of electricity, as said earlier.
The Bitcoin mining sector is also moving towards using renewable energy to promote green Bitcoin mining.
Even China, which banned all types of crypto activities in the country in September 2021, is also considering green Bitcoin mining!
However, how far profitable green Bitcoin mining will be is to be seen since it depends largely on the available conditions and the point of views of persons concerned.
Crypto Miners’ Point of View
Considering the point of view of the miners, it seems that they too are now more focused in portraying themselves as eco-friendly.
It is not only the miners but the entire crypto industry that seems to change their view after facing a lot of criticism over the years for being energy-guzzling and harmful to the climate.
In order to reduce carbon emissions and the effects on the climate, the miners now seem to be more focused on trying out something that is more environmentally responsible.
They are now looking to use energy produced by wind and solar turbines that produce cheap alternative renewable power.
The large and publicly traded crypto mining companies are now building plants that operate on renewable energy.
This effort, however, is seen by the environmentalists as an exercise that is partly focused on public relations but is surely a true effort to make the industry much more sustainable.
This tendency is supposed to take off especially after the ban by China on crypto activities in the country since September last year.
In order to deal with the climate issues caused by the increased use of fossil fuels, a trade group called the Bitcoin Mining Council was also formed.
However, use of green renewable energy, which is mainly produced by solar and wind, for mining Bitcoin can offer fundamental economic inducements but is an irregular power source.
This is because the sun shines only during the day and the wind speeds ebb and flow considerably.
Therefore, it raises a good question: what can a miner do in order to maximize their profits if they cannot run their machines through the whole day?
It is necessary to ensure that the crypto industry as well as the miners are sustainable, which can only be done with proper coordination of the environmental strategy.
This can only be done when you know:
- How clean and sustainable is the renewable energy used
- How much of the energy is being used and
- How the project works.
The focus should be primarily on carbon neutrality, a concept that has changed absolutely now.
However, it is the technological barriers and financial priorities that are pulling back the crypto mining industry from shifting completely to renewable power.
Also, it cannot be guaranteed that such a move will eliminate the carbon footprint completely.
For that, the miners will need to buy energy directly from the renewable power providers circumventing the grid.
Another significant problem faced by the renewable energy providers is that they are still a bit skeptical about crypto moving to them because most of the miners typically lack the desired credit profiles that will allow them to sign a pact with them for a 10 or 15 year period.
Moreover, the larger crypto community seems to be divided over the sustainability of the cleaning up act of the mining sector.
They fear that all will be in vain once the energy-intensive PoW authentication system underlying Bitcoin moves to PoS mechanism.
It will then consume as little as 0.01% of the energy required in the traditional mining process.
Crypto experts and major miners are apprehensive that experimenting with an alternative system right now may affect the long-term potential of Bitcoin adversely to change finance.
However, use of renewable energy for Bitcoin mining is certain to happen.
The question is when it is going to happen and how environmentally friendly it will be.
What Do Reports Say?
You will come across several different surveys and studies conducted by different organizations on the use of renewable energy in crypto mining and the feasibility of green Bitcoin mining, its profitability, and how environmentally friendly it will be.
The green Bitcoin mining space is supported by a few environmental groups but others are quite skeptical about it.
The reports say that a lot of large crypto mining companies have signed a deal with several producers of renewable energy to use it for their mining operations instead of fossil fuels.
This has lowered the environmental impact significantly both due to green mining and due to consuming the surplus energy which would have been wasted otherwise and result in more carbon emission.
It has also reduced the mining costs due to lower use of energy leaving a significantly larger margin for profit for the Bitcoin miners.
Also, it has helped the energy producers to find an easy and a good customer in the Bitcoin miners to sell their produce easily and make profits by converting energy into currency.
The reports therefore show the world that using renewable energy during Bitcoin mining can be quite sustainable and profitable.
Therefore, instead of criticizing this method for crypto mining, more focus should be given on creating solutions that will be more effective, productive, and eco-friendly.
It is only when such movements will be leveraged that it will lead to a brighter and more sustainable future for the entire crypto industry and will help the miners and the holders to benefit from it.
Most importantly, green crypto mining will save the world and the environment from the disastrous effects of climate change.
It is therefore needed to put an end to the reliance on fossil fuels as soon as possible.
Judging by a few compelling stats and economics it can be said that Bitcoin mining powered by solar or wind energy could prove to be extremely profitable.
According to a report of CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin and other crypto coins are major business opportunities having a huge market cap.
If only the excessive use of power for mining Bitcoin and other crypto coins can be reduced with the use of renewable power sources, it will not only be profitable for the miner but also for the environment.
As for the energy providers, it will be profitable to supply the power to Bitcoin mining facilities because they will not have to obtain sales contracts, which is much difficult to obtain, in order to sell it to other industries.
They will also not have to compete with other participants in the market chasing these sales contracts that are too few.
Therefore, Bitcoin mining is one good and profitable way to earn revenue which will be far greater in comparison to any other standard power sales deals to the grids, and all this can be achieved without requiring obtaining any sales contract at all.
As for Bitcoin mining, the profitability of it is the basis of the cost of electricity, which is cheaper if it is generated by solar power.
Therefore, it will be more profitable to use solar power than buying grid power which makes it a sensible approach to mine Bitcoin by using such renewable energy.
Another good thing about using solar power for Bitcoin mining is that the payback time is quite fast, often within two years.
Once that mark is hit, the solar farms henceforth can enjoy their revenue for more than 25 years with nearly zero ongoing cost.
However, while using solar power for mining Bitcoin, the machines must be upgraded from time to time.
Add to that, it is also likely to get grid power at low cost or even negatively-priced which will further increase the margin of profits in solar mining operations.
When more and more mining firms choose to use renewable energy, the massive demand for power for mining a new block along with the adverse environmental impact will be largely mitigated.
The renewable energy to use can be of any type from its different variants which include:
- Solar power
- Hydro power
- Geothermal power
- Wind power and
- Biomass power.
Another good thing about using renewable energy for crypto mining is that, with the reduction in demand of grid power, it may result in negative pricing in the following years.
Considering the strong focus and intent of a number of states to use renewable energy, this is one thing that is certain to happen.
Forecasting the markets and regions where negative pricing may happen, smart investors can set up their mining operations in those regions.
They can use the negatively priced power to mine a currency that is highly likely to appreciate in value significantly over time and prove to be a useful and profitable financial resource.
Margin of profits by using renewable energy for mining Bitcoin and other crypto coins can be further increased due to another significant benefit that it will provide in terms of taxes.
It can be absorbed with the tax liability due to the sale of the coins, whole or partial, as these are mined.
This will eliminate the need for an external equity investor to take up the tax benefits which is typically a requirement for standalone wind or solar power operations.
Then, an off-grid option may also prove to be profitable. This kind of model provides power to the mining operations off the grid especially in those areas where land is cheap and there are no power lines.
Since no grid connection is needed for mining, the miners are connected to the internet through a satellite connection in such scenarios.
For the mining operations, only solar power is used.
Such facilities can use onsite storage for a smoother and an uninterrupted production beyond daylight.
Though the revenue amount may be lower in the case of off-grid operation, it will still be quite profitable.
So, just as this article points out, considering all other aspects it can be said that a change in the crypto mining industry is sure to happen in terms of renewable energy usage to promote the Green Bitcoin Revolution.
The debate is however on how profitable it will be.