In the great debate over crypto mining vs. climate, there are two camps.
First, the crypto enthusiasts, like Square, say things like, "Bitcoin is key to an abundant, clean energy future".
And then there are the energy wonks, who point out that, if bitcoin mining were a country, it would already be in the top 30 for total energy consumption, rivaling Ukraine.
The energy camp tends to dismiss the crypto enthusiasts’ thinking. They’re skeptical of how crypto mines could be assets to a decarbonizing grid, rather than a strain on it.
So to cut through the noise, Shayle spoke to Nick Grossman, a partner at the respected venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. USV was the largest early investor in Coinbase, which currently has a $49B market capitalization. But USV has gone big on climate tech and raised a specific climate fund. Nick straddles both the crypto and climate worlds, so he's the perfect person to help me make some sense out of this madness.
Nick and Shayle break down the basics of crypto currencies as energy-backed assets. They examine the argument that crypto mines improve the economics of renewables, because they will always be willing to buy cheap renewable power. This, in turn, helps to finance the overbuilding of renewable projects to help meet peak demand, or so the thinking goes.
But do intermittent renewables improve the economics of crypto mines? In other words: Is it profitable to mine intermittently?
They also discuss green bitcoin certificates and alternatives to the energy-intensive proof-of-work crypto security model: proof of stake, proof of space-time, and proof of location
And they evaluate Shayle’s (surely serious) startup pitch to match crypto mines with seasonal renewables: put the mines on barges and shuttle them back and forth between renewable projects in the northern and southern hemispheres.
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