Bitcoin mining will soon be a valuable tool in the fight against global warming. How ? By extinguishing the methane flares.
What exactly do we blame bitcoin for?
It consumes a lot of electricity. The Bitcoin Mining Council estimates that securing the best reserve currency in history represents 0.14% of all energy produced in the world.
It is also true that 40% of the electricity consumed by bitcoin comes from fossil fuels and that there are no small savings in the face of the limits of growth and the climate peril.
Nevertheless, let’s not go too fast. On the one hand, humanity needs a standard other than the petrodollar. The exorbitant privilege for the benefit of Uncle Sam has lasted too long.
Furthermore, humans have always sought to protect their savings from the horrors of history. And that’s not about to change…
The invention of bitcoin allows all human beings to save for their old age without fear that inflation will reduce their life’s work to nothing. This privilege is no longer reserved for the privileged enough to buy luxury real estate, paintings by old masters and stock market shares.
But once again, all of this will make little sense in a world at +3°C where crops would be regularly devastated by ever more intense heat waves and droughts.
So how could bitcoin help?
Extinguish the flares
For Daniel Batten, and against all intuition, bitcoin mining can reduce the greenhouse effect.
This miracle is linked to the methane burned at the outlet of oil wells because it cannot be transported to civilization.
Injecting this methane into an electricity generator instead of burning it in flares would reduce “CO2 equivalent” emissions by 63%.
Note (because it is important for what follows) that we use the term “CO2 equivalent” to reflect the fact that the impact of methane on the greenhouse effect is 84 times greater than that of CO2.
We know that flares only burn 92% of methane. The reason being that there is often wind, which disrupts the combustion reaction. Eight percent of the methane is therefore not burned as CO2. It escapes into the atmosphere as CH4.
This is a problem since the greenhouse effect of methane is 84 times more serious than that of CO2. To choose between the two, it is better to release CO2 into the atmosphere rather than CH4.
We can thus say that 1 ton of methane = 84 t of CO2 equivalent. (the impact of one tonne of methane on global warming is equivalent to 84 tonnes of CO2).
D. Batten did the math:
In a flare, there are 2 sources of carbon emissions:
- The carbon dioxide created by burning 92% of the methane
- The 8% of unburned methane
Then you have to take into account that when methane burns, it does not produce one ton, but 2.75 tons of CO2. (There is more carbon in one kg of CH4 than one kg of CO2, because two atoms of CO2 weigh more than four atoms of hydrogen (H). Hence the 2.75 times more carbon during combustion) .
CO2 equivalent created by flaring:
- 92% x 2.75 tons = 2.53 tons of CO2 equivalent
- 8% × 84 tons = 6.72 tons of CO2 equivalent
In total, the total CO2 equivalent created by flaring is 9.25 tonnes.
CO2 equivalent created if methane were used in an electricity generator powering bitcoin mining machines:
Modern electricity generators remove up to 99.89% of methane. Only 0.11% of the methane escapes against 8% with flaring).
- 99.89% × 2.75 tons = 2.747 tons of CO2 equivalent
- 0.11% × 84 tons = 0.092 tons of CO2 equivalent
In total, the total CO2 equivalent created by combustion in an electricity generator is 2.839 tons.
BTC Mining, a weapon to tackle global warming
In other words, managing to burn the 8% of methane that escapes from the flares allows a 69.3% reduction in the greenhouse effect induced by the gas burned on the flares!
Attentive readers will certainly notice that this figure is different from that announced above. The reason is that natural gas is not 100% methane. It contains only 80 to 95% methane, the rest being made up of other particles.
Daniel Batten omitted them for simplicity. However, you will find all the calculations in its paper for those interested. The true figure is 63%.
In other words:
“For every tonne of CO2 equivalent produced for bitcoin mining, 2.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent were avoided in the atmosphere. »
Daniel Batten has therefore calculated how many machines would have to be installed on oil sites to extinguish flares and make the entire bitcoin mining industry “carbon neutral”:
“Currently, the Bitcoin network uses 41.5% fossil fuels and generates 27 million tons of CO2 equivalent. So a reduction of 27/41.5 = 0.65 million tonnes of CO2 emissions will reduce the carbon footprint of the Bitcoin network by 1%. »
“Fully offsetting the CO2 emissions of the Bitcoin network therefore requires connecting mining machines consuming 2254 MW of electricity to the flares. »
2254 MW represents about 20% of the total electricity consumption of the bitcoin network. We bet we will reach the goal soon if the miners migrate to the right place. Daniel Batten is behind a massive $500 million investment to make it happen.
Receive a digest of news in the world of cryptocurrencies by subscribing to our new service ofdaily and weekly so you don’t miss any of the essential Tremplin.io!