Bitcoin reduces methane emissions. Marathon has just published a report dedicated to the installation of miners on landfills.
Methane from landfills
In his report entitled “Cash on Trash”, the American miner Marathon notes that more than 2 billion tonnes of waste ends up in landfills each year. Part of this waste is made up of organic matter which, as it decomposes, releases methane.
Problem is, methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Its impact on global warming is 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a period of 20 years. And 34 times higher over a century.
But landfills are currently responsible for 11% of all global methane emissions. The World Bank also expects the volume of waste to increase by 70% by 2050.
The situation is particularly worrying in the United States. Landfills are responsible for 14% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Marathon notes that in 2021, U.S. landfills released 3.7 million tons of methane into the atmosphere. It is equivalent to “79 coal-fired power plants”can we read in the report.
For Anglophiles, this interview delves into the why and how in detail:
In the United States, more than 50% of landfills do not have a gas collection system. All the methane escapes into the atmosphere.
Another much less harmful approach is to burn this methane (CH4) instead of letting it escape as it is. It then transforms into CO2, which is preferable, unless it can be used wisely. However, studies show that because of gusts, only 92% of the methane reacts during combustion. In other words, 8% of methane still escapes into the atmosphere.
Why not put this gas to better use? Because many landfills are too small or too isolated to make it economically viable to recover the gas.
The sale of electricity produced using methane brings little profit, not to mention the delays in connecting to the high voltage lines necessary to transport the electricity. Refining gas to sell it as is is potentially more profitable, but it requires heavy investment (gas pipelines).
Only large landfills located near urban centers can be found there. Converting waste to energy is often out of the question for smaller or more remote landfills.
Mining bitcoins using landfills
The Bitcoin industry can provide a solution to small landfills that wish to recycle their waste while participating in the fight against global warming.
Additionally, the White House took decisive action in 2021 to force large landfills to reduce their methane emissions. Only large landfills are covered by the regulations, but perhaps all landfills will one day be affected.
So why not take the lead by welcoming bitcoin miners. The process is very simple. This involves capturing methane and burning it inside electricity generators which in turn power the miner’s machines.
In doing so, the landfill converts its methane into a source of energy and revenue with minimal investment. Bitcoin miners, for their part, benefit from an inexpensive source of electricity.
This solution also has the merit of reducing methane emissions. In fact, an electricity generator burns 99.99% of methane, compared to only 92% with flares.
If the Bitcoin industry expands further on landfills, it could theoretically become CO2 neutral. Bitcoin could even become an asset in the fight against global warming.
Many other wastes of energy could be put to good use. By absorbing these surpluses, miners provide a source of income that energy companies can use to finance the energy transition:
According to Daniel Batten, 6% of the Bitcoin network’s carbon footprint is already offset by reducing methane emissions!
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