New York locals are protesting that a gas-fired power plant is polluting the air and heating the local Seneca Lake. They believe this is due to the plant increasing fossil-fuel energy due to bitcoin mining.
“The lake is so warm you feel like you’re in a hot tub,” said Abi Buddington of Dresden, who lives near the plant. The plant is owned by Atlas Holdings, a private equity firm. Due to their energy-intensive bitcoin mining, they have increased the electrical power output within the plant.
Cryptocurrency, bitcoin, is a digital form of money. Therefore, the “mining” of this type of currency requires high-performance computers and large amounts of electricity. Atlas Holdings’ New York plant, which is run by Greenidge Generation LLC, has computers operating 24/7. Due to this, the computers burn through an extremely high amount of real energy and in return, produce real pollution.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge estimated that global bitcoin miners use more energy in a year than the entire country of Chile. These processes make a significant addition to carbon emissions. There are approximately 8,000 computers in the Greenidge plant and they are looking to install even more.
However, the CEO of Greenidge, Jeff Kirt, disagrees with the protests against the plant. The environmental impact of the plant has never been better than it is right now,” he said. In March, Greenidge announced that its Bitcoin mining capacity will increase from 19 megawatts to 45 megawatts by December of this year.
“These crypto operations are looking for anywhere that has relatively cheap power in a relatively cool climate,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, a charity conservation advocacy. “It’s a horrible business model for all of New York state, the United States and for the planet.” Greendige are disputing this view and hope that its operations would soon be carbon neutral.
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