As the value of Bitcoin rises and concerns about the energy-intensive method required to obtain it grow, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs in the United States believe flared natural gas offers a solution. To create Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies profitably, massive amounts of computers must be dedicated to solving purposefully complicated equations — an effort that consumes more energy than entire countries, but for which these start-ups claim that flaming gas jets situated next to oil wells are ideal power sources.
“I believe the demand is enormous,” Sergii Gerasymovych, CEO of EZ Blockchain, which operates six natural gas-powered data centres in Utah and New Mexico, as well as in Canada. Companies like EZ Blockchain are erecting shipping containers around the world, containing racks containing hundreds of computers that mine cryptocurrency using natural gas from oil wells that would otherwise be burned in the open.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, recently criticised bitcoin’s energy use, especially coal-fired energy, and announced that he would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for his electric vehicles. Although pioneers in the fledgling industry claim that using natural gas that would otherwise be wasted is a solution to these problems. Tony Scott, managing director of analysis at oil and gas consulting company BTU Analytics, believes that its potential to potentially reduce pollution remains to be seen.