Green Investments Help Bitcoin Miners Amid Possible Regulatory Crackdown
Regulators have been moving into multiple areas of the crypto industry, and they will – in one way or another – come after crypto mining powered by non-renewables, according to two miners that talked with Cryptonews.com.
However, as the concerns, facts, and misinformation over Bitcoin (BTC)’s carbon footprint have reemerged during this cycle, mining companies that have been moving towards cleaner energy sources seem to be more prepared ahead of possible new mining-related regulations.
Igor Runets, CEO and Founder of BitRiver, a major provider of colocation services for cryptocurrency mining in Russia, and the CIS, noted that countries across the world are already moving towards carbon neutrality, so it’s to be expected that there’ll be regulations discouraging non-renewable powered crypto mining, directly or indirectly.
As for Greenidge Generation, a US-based vertically integrated BTC mining and power generation facility, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Tim Rainey said that the company will continue working with regulatory agencies and government at all levels, given that they all share a goal – an environmentally-sound, economically-vital operation.
As a power producer, “Greenidge is one of very few cryptocurrency mining companies with extensive experience” working with regulators on this matter, Rainey said, adding that “by design, the Bitcoin mining algorithm forces all miners to pursue best efficiency in energy use.”
Conversion, renewables, and a token
In 2017, Greenidge converted their power plant from a coal-fired one to “a cleaner and greener natural gas-powered one.” Moreover, they have recently made a commitment to make their Upstate New York mining operation completely carbon-neutral starting with June 1 this year and “forever thereafter.”
In March, the company said that its 106 MW natural gas plant powers 19 MW of mining capacity, which is expected to more than double to 41 MW by the end of Q2 2021 and reach 85 MW by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, also in 2017, BitRiver started their business in the “hydropower-rich Siberian region” in Russia – chosen specifically due to the belief “that the future of cryptocurrency mining will be powered by renewables,” said Runets.
For him, committing to sustainable mining from the very start was a “far-sighted decision,” proven by the increased concern among institutions and investors regarding Bitcoin’s carbon footprint.
This heightened concern, however, was good for BitRiver’s business, the CEO suggested, saying that “this shift has not only resulted in even higher demand for our low-carbon colocation services, but also strengthened our belief in the future of cryptocurrency mining.”
Their facility currently has over 100 MW of power capacity fully operational, but it is in the process of increasing this capacity to 300 MW by the end of 2021. This will be done through datacenters that are currently at various stages of development, said Runets.
Also, BitRiver launched the BTR utility token, which is backed by 100 MW of low-carbon power in the datacenter in Siberia’s city of Bratsk. BTR is meant to “accelerate our plans and make it easier for miners and investors around the world to access our low-carbon cryptocurrency mining services,” said the CEO.
Additionally, there's another change expected in the crypto mining business, as the second-largest network by market capitalization, Ethereum (ETH), plans to move from its current proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism, used by Bitcoin too, to proof-of-stake (PoS).
BitTriver and Greenidge say it won't affect their business in a noticeable way. While the US company has "a small test mining operation" where they mine a small amount of ETH and other cryptoassets, BitRiver sees stronger demand for ETH mining as the move to PoS nears and as Ethereum becomes more profitable to mine than ever.
“On the other hand, the demand from clients who want to mine other popular PoW blockchains such as Bitcoin already exceeds our current or planned capacity,” Runets said.