Bitcoin mining is often criticized as an imperfect process due to its energy expenditure, but major firms in the industry are trying to maximize efficiency and sustainability while seeking regulatory clarity.
In a dimly lit room at the FTX and SALT’s Crypto Bahamas event, some of the largest crypto miners in the world took the stage to discuss the future of the nascent but growing industry in the “Crypto Mining: Maximizing Efficiency and Sustainability” panel.
Crypto miners are looking to improve their market through efforts ranging from improving hashrate efficiency, which is the amount of power that a machine requires to produce a bitcoin, to data mining centers becoming more specialized and optimized for lower energy consumption, Marco Streng, CEO and co-founder of Genesis Digital Assets, said at the event.
Computers that mine bitcoin are 58 times more efficient than they were eight years ago, according to a report by the Bitcoin Mining Council. In addition to machines becoming more efficient, the engineering of the facilities and the sources of power have become much more efficient, which improves the productivity of an individual bitcoin mining computer, Mike Levitt, co-chairman, co-founder and CEO of Core Scientific, said.
Some miners are even using excess heat and converting it into close to 100% heat-generated energy, which would otherwise be wasted but instead is being channeled into energy, Streng said.
“It’s clear now that miners are converging toward renewable sources,” Streng said.
Out of all the energy that gets generated and used in the U.S., about 65% was wasted in 2021, according to a chart by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a research facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and UC Berkeley.
Miners can be a solution to the problem of unconsumed energy, Streng said.
Jaime Leverton, CEO of Hut 8, agreed.
“By working together with a local power grid, we actually are a stabilizer,” Leverton said. The amount of energy that it takes for Bitcoin to produce $1 billion worth of value is significantly less than the amount of energy it takes for something like an airline to produce $1 billion worth of value, Brian Brooks, CEO of Bitfury, said.
A key point that’s hurting the crypto mining industry right now is the lack of regulatory clarity, all the panelists said. “Once we get [regulation], we think the pace of innovation should pick up because we’ll know the rules of the game,” Levitt said. “The efficiency of the hardware has improved tremendously, the efficiency of power provision and the free markets have directed us to be cognizant of how we bring power the right way. “