Bitcoin miners and fracking companies are working together – Quartz

Bitcoin miners and fracking companies are working together – Quartz

In 2018, the global cryptocurrency market had crashed, and Sergii Gerasymovych was looking for a way to keep his Bitcoin mining company afloat. He eventually settled on a plan to make money while cleaning up two notoriously climate-polluting industries. 

Gerasymovych’s biggest headache—as for all Bitcoin miners—was the price of electricity. Bitcoin miners compete against one other to unlock coins by solving increasingly difficult math problems with fleets of computers. This consumes a lot of power globally: about as much as Argentina each year. Bitcoin miners’ profit margin largely relies on the gap between electricity bills and Bitcoin’s value; if the latter drops, the only way to make up the margin is to curb the former. That’s why so much of the world’s cryptocurrency mining is tied to low-cost coal and hydroelectric plants in Asia. Gerasymovych was hunting for cheap power in the US, and stumbled on an intriguing source: Flare gas from natural gas wells. Now, a number of market trends are converging to propel a nascent industry in gas-powered Bitcoin.

Fracking for Bitcoin

Oil and gas wells in hydraulically fractured (“fracked”) shale formations produce some waste gas as a byproduct, mostly composed of methane. Since selling this gas is usually unprofitable, it’s typically disposed of by burning it off. Those little flares, from thousands of wells around the world, add up. Gas flaring is responsible for at least 1% of global carbon emissions, and collectively wastes hundreds of millions of
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