Bitcoin mining heats the lake near New York

Residents of a Bitcoin mining facility on the shores of Seneca Lake in the US state of New York complain about the steep rise in water temperatures. The miners cool their computers with sea water.

In June, many residents of the small town of Dresden on Seneca Lake in the USA broke their necks. They organized a protest against them Bitcoin-Mining facility from Greenidge Generation. This pollutes the air and heats up the lake – mainly because it uses fossil fuels – specifically natural gas. “The lake is so warm that you feel as if you are in a whirlpool,” admitted Abi Buddington from Dresden NBC News on record.

42 degrees warm water is allowed to flow into the lake

Greenidge, a company owned by private equity firm Atlas Holdings, is not aware of any guilt. According to Greenidge boss Jeff Kirt, the facility operates strictly within the framework of federal and state environmental permits. The environmental compatibility of the plant was “never as good as it is now,” said Kirt. In addition, Greenidge would offset its carbon emissions and strive to move away from natural gas as an energy source.

In fact, Greenidge uses lake water to cool its roughly 8,000 computers, which are used for bitcoin mining at the gas-powered facility. To do this, Greenidge can suck in and release over 500 million liters of seawater per day. In summer the water released can be up to 42 degrees Celsius, in winter it can still be 30 degrees. The underlying permits are due for renewal in autumn.

According to Greenidge, the temperature limits are only reached halfway on average. Accordingly, when the water is returned to the lake, it is around 20 degrees in summer and around 15 degrees in winter. The protesting residents see it differently. The thermal investigation they requested has not yet been carried out and is now planned for 2023.

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Greenidge wants to expand mining significantly

Greenidge sees himself – not least because of the crackdown on miners by the Chinese government in their own country – clearly on the upswing. Atlas, the owner company of Greenidge, recently raised $ 3 billion from investors and plans to more than quadruple its current bitcoin mining capacity by the end of the year. Last Friday, the company announced that it would expand operations in the US state of South Carolina later this year. There Greenidge is planning a carbon-neutral crypto mining facility in the city of Spartanburg.

In the US, Bitcoin mining has now reached almost eight percent of the global share, doubling from the four percent in September 2019. Not everyone likes that. Activists are calling on New York regulators to restrict Bitcoin mining operations. If that does not happen, they argue, at least 30 more power plants would be required just for mining. That, however, would jeopardize the state’s energy goals. Instead, a three-year moratorium on Bitcoin mining should apply.

Bitcoin problem # 1: the high power consumption

Bitcoin mining has been criticized around the world. The reason is its immense Power consumption. Bitcoin consumes more electricity per year than Argentina with its 45 million inhabitants and is roughly on a par with Ukraine and Sweden. If Bitcoin were a state, it would be ranked 29th among the largest electricity consumers in the world. 0.59 percent of the electricity consumed on earth flows into the Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin proponents like to argue that crypto consumption is not critical as long as renewable energies are used as the power source. In fact, it had also been supervised by Cambridge University „Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study“ found in September 2020 that 39 percent of crypto energy now comes from renewable sources. The fact is that the share of renewable energies is increasing, but the share of fossil electricity is increasing faster.

It could be good for the energy balance of Bitcoin that China restrictive against mining going on. Because in China so far 65 percent of the mining electricity has been consumed. At the same time, China’s fossil fuels clearly dominate the electricity mix with 62 percent. Relocating to other regions of the world could improve the energy balance towards more green electricity. However, the fact remains that Bitcoin requires more and more energy at breakneck speed.

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