Bitcoin mining is often criticized as an imperfect process due to energy consumption, but large companies in the industry are trying to maximize efficiency and sustainability while seeking regulatory clarity.
In a dimly lit room during the FTX and SALT’s Crypto Bahamas event, some of the largest cryptominers in the world took the stage to discuss the future of the nascent but growing industry in the panel “Crypto Mining: Maximizing Efficiency and Sustainability”.
Crypto miners are looking to improve their market through efforts ranging from improving hashrate efficiency, the amount of power a machine needs to produce a bitcoin, to data mining centers becoming more specialized and optimized for lower power 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, facility engineering and power sources have become much more efficient, improving the productivity of an individual bitcoin mining computer, Mike Levitt, co-chairman, co-founder and CEO of Core Scientific, said.
Some miners even use excess heat and convert it into nearly 100% heat-generated energy, which would otherwise be wasted, but instead channeled into energy, Streng said.
“It’s now clear that miners are converging toward renewable resources,” Streng said.
Of all energy generated and used in the U.S., about 65% was wasted by 2021, according to a chart from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a research facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and UC Berkeley.
Miners could be a solution to the problem of unspent energy, Streng said.
Jaime Leverton, CEO of Hut 8, agreed.
“By working together with a local power grid, we are actually a stabilizer,” Leverton said.
The amount of energy Bitcoin needs to produce $1 billion in value is significantly less than the amount of energy it takes for something like an airline to produce $1 billion in value, said Brian Brooks, CEO of Bitfury.
One key issue that is hurting the crypto mining industry right now is the lack of regulatory clarity, all panelists said.
“Once We” [regulation], we think the pace of innovation needs to pick up because we know the rules of the game,” Levitt said. “Hardware efficiency has improved tremendously, power efficiency and free markets have pushed us to be aware of how to bring power the right way. †