And while Musk was quickly labeled everything from a crypto traitor to the market manipulator, the aforementioned move did spur a change in the mindset of most miners, forcing them to switch to a greener outlook. As such, an increasing number of experts are now beginning to think that nuclear energy may be the way out of Bitcoin’s ongoing power woes.
For example, Alex Gilbert, project manager for nuclear power think tank the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, is of the view that as we move into a future driven by crypto, it will be completely natural for an increasing number of Bitcoin miners to move towards nuclear power sources. A similar view is shared by Musk, who recently suggested that nuclear energy can serve as a viable alternative for many of today’s large-scale mining operations.
The Developments so far Have Been Quite Impressive
Over the last year or so, a number of deals between nuclear power companies and Bitcoin mining firms have continued to emerge. For starters, just last month, micro-nuclear reactor firm Oklo entered into a 20-year commercial partnership with Compass Mining, with the latter all set to draw a major portion of its energy needs from the former’s carbon-free nuclear energy reactors.
Similarly, Ohio-based energy producer Energy Harbor Corp. also revealed recently that it intends to supply clean nuclear energy to Standard Power’s newly established Bitcoin blockchain mining center by the end of this year.
Lastly, according to emerging reports, Talen Energy is also seeking to establish its very own cryptocurrency mining facility near its personal nuclear power plant (situated in Berwick, Pennsylvania) by the end of 2022.
All of these moves may not amount to much at first glance but when all is said and done, it does reflect a clear shift in focus from mining entities across the globe.
Here’s why Bitcoin needs Nuclear Energy
As a quick refresher, Bitcoin mining refers to a process that allows for new BTC to enter into circulation. Miners are essential for mitigating a whole host of issues related to fraud since they are tasked with the duty of authenticating transactions — a process that is extremely complex and computationally intensive — on the Bitcoin blockchain. In lieu of the efforts, miners are presented with newly minted tokens.
That said, to put BTCs current power consumption ratio into perspective, Alex de Vries, a well renowned financial economist, was recently quoted as saying: “Millions of Bitcoin mining devices around the world are running every second of the day non-stop. Combined, these machines are now consuming as much electrical energy as a country like the Netherlands.”
Lastly, it should be pointed out that Nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining is part of a new wave of innovation spurred by companies developing smaller reactors that are not only more efficient and sustainable but also cheaper to operate when compared with their larger, conventional counterparts.
Some Drawbacks Associated with Nuclear Crypto Mining
Even though the steps taken by many start-ups operating within this space have been promising, to say the least, one has to admit that things are still in their nascency and there is hardly any specific data that suggests that this trend may continue in the near long run.
“I don’t expect this to become a wider trend,” de Vries opined.
Other experts are of the belief that the cost of devising nuclear power plants for crypto mining purposes exclusively will be too cost-intensive as time goes on. Not only that, even the time taken to build such a reactor is a concern for many, with security expert Marc Bevand stating: “It’s worth pointing out that the cost to build utility-scale renewable energy power plants is less than the cost to build new nuclear power plants. So, when it comes to expanding existing capacity, renewables are more attractive.”
Lastly, the recycling of nuclear waste is an issue that has grabbed the attention of many environmentalists in recent decades, especially since disposing of such hazardous materials is an extremely dangerous and cumbersome process.