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Can Green Hydrogen Placate Bitcoin (BTC) Detractors? Researchers May Have a Solution

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Digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) are divisive for various reasons – one being their energy consumption, and the resulting perception that they are bad for the environment.  Truth be told, this was at one point undeniable, as the Bitcoin network relied heavily on electricity generated by coal-powered plants in nations like China.  Over the past few years, a concerted effort has resulted in much of this reliance shifting toward more sustainable sources as miners were forced to find new bases of operation in the United States and beyond.  Despite this, the narrative proclaiming that Bitcoin has outsized detrimental effects on the environment persists.  True or not, though, striving for an industry to be more environmentally friendly is never a bad thing, and there is always more work that can be done.

Interestingly, recent advancements involving the production and storage of hydrogen for use as fuel have opened new doors for its potential use cases, with a team of researchers from Cornell University addressing one example in a paper titled “Climate sustainability through a dynamic duo: Green hydrogen and crypto driving energy transition and decarbonization“.

Hydrogen and Bitcoin A Dynamic Duo?

Mining digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) results in primary emissions only, meaning the only emissions released from the process stem from the production of the electricity used.  The actual act of mining Bitcoin (BTC) releases no more harmful emissions than using a toaster or any other electrical device.  With that being the case, it is easy to pinpoint where advancements need to be made to ensure associated emissions are kept to a minimum – only use clean source energy.

Essentially, what the paper proposes is that green hydrogen (hydrogen produced with sustainable energy) infrastructure should be established for use in producing proof-of-work (PoW) digital assets like Bitcoin.  Not only would this help to ‘clean up' the existing emissions from such networks, it would also accelerate the development and use of sustainable energy overall.

“Our findings reveal that green hydrogen production, paired with crypto- operations, can accelerate the deployment of solar and wind power capacities to boost conventional mitigation frameworks. Specifically, leveraging the economic poten-tial derived from green hydrogen and bitcoin for incremental investment in renewable energy penetration, this dynamic duo can enable capacity expansions of up to 25.5% and 73.2% for solar and wind power installations.”

In addition to proposing the use of green hydrogen in crypto mining operations in an effort to decarbonize the grid, the study also notes that specific climate laws and government-run climate incentives are needed for this to occur.

Bitcoin (BTC) a Virtual Energy Carrier?

One of the more interesting concepts discussed in the study involves the idea of Bitcoin (BTC) acting as a ‘virtual energy carrier (VEC)'.  Essentially, this means leveraging the monetary value of the BTC created in mining operations to directly fund the development of sustainable energy initiatives and infrastructure.

This is particularly intriguing with Bitcoin (BTC) because, being digital in nature, it does not require transportation.  This means that its value is unaffected by location, and mining operations can be established in areas of the world with energy sources that would normally be stranded/isolated.  Examples of this have already been in place for years, with one notable example being Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo where conservation efforts are partially funded by Bitcoin-mined with surplus energy from an isolated hydroelectric dam that would otherwise be wasted.

This concept can also extend to include monetizing methane flaring operations.  This process, which typically involves burning waste methane before release into the atmosphere, can be used to generate electricity instead, which is then used to mine Bitcoin (BTC).  In doing so, the Bitcoin network is allowing for the monetization of a previously wasted resource that can be redirected toward climate initiatives.


Bitcoin Mining Companies

*Figures provided below were accurate at the time of writing and are subject to change.  Any potential investor should verify metrics*

1. Marathon Digital, Inc.

finviz dynamic chart for  MARA

Market CapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share(EPS)
5,668,606,516698.33$0.84

Marathon is one of the largest Bitcoin mining companies in North America. The company focuses on mining digital assets and operates its data centers in the United States.  It openly states that it is in the process of decarbonizing its business “…by reducing scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and ultimately achieving 100% carbon neutrality. While our mining operations themselves emit no emissions, we strive for our Bitcoin miners to derive the as much of their power as possible from sustainable, non-carbon emitting power sources, which may include wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and biofuel.”

At the time of writing, MARA was listed by the majority of analysts as a ‘‘Buy'

2. Riot Blockchain, Inc.

finviz dynamic chart for  RIOT

Market CapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share(EPS)
3,148,944,605-17.77$-0.27

Riot Blockchain focuses on cryptocurrency mining with a significant focus on Bitcoin. The company aims to be one of the most significant and lowest-cost producers of Bitcoin in North America.

At the time of writing, RIOT was listed by the majority of analysts as a ‘‘Strong Buy'

3. Hive Blockchain Technologies Ltd.

finviz dynamic chart for  HIVE

Market CapForward P/E 1 Yr.Earnings Per Share(EPS)
322,179,083-6.25$-0.64

Hive is a cryptocurrency mining company focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum. It's one of the pioneers in bridging blockchain and cryptocurrencies to traditional capital markets.

Notably, Hive stands out for its dedication to green energy, as it exclusively uses environmentally friendly power sources, like hydroelectric and geothermal energy, for mining Bitcoin and Ethereum, significantly reducing its environmental impact.

At the time of writing, HIVE was listed by the majority of analysts as a ‘‘Buy'


Hydrogen and Bitcoin: Mutually Beneficial

At the end of the day, Bitcoin (BTC) has grown to such an extent that it is now clear the asset is here to stay.  It is being adopted on a global scale due to its ability to function not only as a means for transferring value, but as store of value and hedge against FIAT currencies that are constantly manipulated, weaponized, and devalued.

The aforementioned study does well to address the largest lingering concern remaining involving the network, which is its energy consumption.  Instead of vilifying the network and calling for its ban, the paper recognizes the potential for Bitcoin to act as a boon, supporting accelerated development of green initiatives and decarbonization of our grid systems.