Bitcoin Mining May Actually Be Good for the Environment – and Elon Musk

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ALEXANDER BECHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10764495b)Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (R) gives a statement at the construction site of the Tesla Giga Factory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, 03 September 2020.
ALEXANDER BECHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / ALEXANDER BECHER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Elon Musk made big waves in the cryptocurrency market earlier this year when he announced that Tesla had purchased $1.5 billion of Bitcoin, even accepting it as payment for the company’s famously “green” electric vehicles.

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Critics at the time maintained this was hypocritical, portraying the clean power-obsessed Musk as carrying what Reuters called “Bitcoin’s dirty baggage.” Bank of America analysts estimated that $1 billion of Bitcoin would “produce the same carbon emissions as the annual output of 1.2 million cars,” Yahoo Finance reported.

Bitcoin “mining” is, in fact, a major environmental strain right now – University of Cambridge researchers found that the process uses more electricity than the entire nation of Argentina. Mining Bitcoin is resource-intensive, requiring tremendous amounts of electricity and high-powered computer systems to operate all day long. These computers are not your average desktops – they have been configured to expend much more energy, and power, than typical household models.

But is that all there is to the story? Candid Wood, of ARK Investment Management LLC, stated earlier this week that Bitcoin mining could actually be good for the environment, Bloomberg reports.

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ARK research director Brett Winton followed suit, with a Medium post claiming that Bitcoin “could yield more renewable energy providing more reliable power,” driving investments in solar power.

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He and the authors stated in the research that “with Bitcoin mining integrated into a solar system (solar + batteries) … we believe energy providers — whether utilities or independent entities — could play the arbitrage between electricity prices and Bitcoin prices, as well as sell the “surplus” solar and supply almost all grid power demands without lowering profitability.”

If true, Winton’s bet that Bitcoin mining could spur a renewable energy boom would pay off big for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing after a year when investments in the sector has already more than doubled.

CNBC reported in February that ESG funds captured $51.1 billion of new money from inventors in 2020, a new record and more than double the money it captured in 2019.
The sector has grown tremendously, and has spurred the creation of index funds and ETFs tailored towards environmentally conscious and socially responsible investments.

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Related: The Complete Guide to ETFs
More: Elon Musk’s SpaceX Beats Out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to Nab NASA Moon Contract

ESG and crypto may seem like an unlikely match at first, but combined, are sparking a new investment sector with limitless potential. The nature of crypto does not define a ceiling, and with Musk’s other famous company SpaceX actively working toward going to the moon in the next decade, renewable energy sources supporting that endeavor certainly couldn’t hurt.

If you’re looking for ways to get into ESG funds, start here.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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