Finance

Bitcoin mining shifts to nuclear power for a sustainable image

The Cumulus Susquehanna data center is expected to start hosting nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining in the first quarter of 2023.

A new nuclear-powered data center in Pennsylvania will host bitcoin mining. This is the first nuclear-powered bitcoin mine in the United States. The Cumulus Susquehanna data center has been completed by Cumulus Data, a subsidiary of independent power producer Talen Energy.

The data center is expected to start hosting nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining and cloud computing services in the first quarter of 2023. Will this shift to nuclear power clean up the image of Crypto mining?

Opponents of cryptocurrency often refer to its energy and pollution footprints as major reasons against adoption. The global Bitcoin mining network consumed an estimated 67TWh of electricity in 2020, according to Cambridge university’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (BECI). Bitcoin is estimated to have emitted 86.3 million tons of carbon in 2022.

Bitcoin and its impact on the environment

In May 2021, China’s State Council banned cryptocurrency mining and trading, citing environmental and financial concerns. In May itself, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla announced the company had suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin, saying in a tweet: “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels…but this cannot come at a great cost to the environment.”

As consumers and shareholders get more serious about issues like climate change and sustainability, companies are starting to take actions to address these concerns. Most of the major cryptocurrencies operate following the proof-of-work (POW) scheme.

In POW, miners compete to leverage computer resources to perform cryptocurrency transactions and in return receive a reward in the form of the cryptocurrency they are supporting. Although there exist energy-efficient alternatives to the POW scheme, such as the proof-of-stake or proof-of-space schemes, these have not yet been widely adopted by the major cryptocurrencies.

N-power accounted for 50% of all carbon-free electricity generation in the US in 2020

Total power usage across all cryptocurrency networks is estimated to be around 13.5 GWe, roughly equal to the demand of Sweden. The situation demands adopting sustainable solutions at the earliest to meet the power demands of the cryptocurrency mining industry.  Here arises a unique opportunity for synergizing with nuclear power since energy produced from nuclear reactors is carbon-free.

In 2020, nuclear power accounted for 50 percent of all carbon-free electricity generation in the U.S., as per the Energy Information Administration. Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from the generation of nuclear power, including uranium mining, fuel enrichment, and fuel fabrication are comparable with those of other renewable sources of electricity.

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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