Researchers from Cornell University say newly developed wind and solar power projects could actually profit by using their energy for Bitcoin mining. Often criticized for its negative environmental impacts, the researchers say that Bitcoin mining could be performed by these projects once they are generating power but before they are joined to the grid.
If successful, the program could generate tens of millions of dollars, which could be used for renewable energy investments or other methods designed to defray the impacts of the Bitcoin mining process.
How Notoriously Power-Hungry Cryptocurrency Mining Could Benefit Everyone
In their study, “From Mining to Mitigation: How Bitcoin Can Support Renewable Energy Development and Climate Action,” which was published Oct. 27 in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, the Cornell researchers note that there are dozens of new wind and solar power projects currently under developments that are ideally suited for their proposed bitcoin mining solution.
Top of the group’s list was Texas, with 32 planned renewable energy projects. According to study authors Apoorv Lal, a doctoral student, and Fengqi You, the Roxanne E. and Michael J. Zak Professor in Energy Systems Engineering, those projects could generate approximately $47 million in Bitcoin mining profits during their “precommercial” phase, when the project has not yet been “integrated” into the power grid but are already generating power that would otherwise be lost.
“The Aktina Solar and Roseland Solar Projects in Texas – each with 250-megawatt capacities – were found to be the most profitable, generating a maximum profit of $3.23 million,” the press release announcing the proposal explains. “The Western Trail Wind project, with a capacity of 367 megawatts, showed profitability of $2.65 million.”
California is listed as the second most profitable. Also mentioned are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, and Virginia, whose pending renewable energy projects could potentially profit from Bitcoin mining.
Not All Energy Generation Projects Could Benefit From Bitcoin Mining
Of note, the research team, which also included contributions from Jesse Zhu, a distinguished professor from the Western University of Canada, cautioned that not all renewable energy projects fit their hypothesis. That’s mainly because Bitcoin mining requires a steady, reliable energy stream, something not all renewable projects can provide, especially during pre-commercial operations.
“Profitability of a mining system hinges on periods of steady energy availability since renewable energy sources can vary significantly,” said You, a senior faculty fellow at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “Therefore, it is important to site the mining farm strategically to maximize productivity.”
To underline this point, You said the solar power projects planned in California, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia were the only ones in those states that could profit from Bitcoin mining. This estimate specifically excludes wind and other renewable energy projects planned in those states.
Creating Incentives for Renewable Energy Bitcoin Mining
Along with any profits generated by their proposed solution, the researchers suggest certain additional incentives be put in place to get project designers and owners to implement their Bitcoin mining approach. This includes the idea of granting those companies carbon credits for “avoided emissions.”
“These rewards can act as an incentive for miners to adopt clean energy sources, which can lead to combined positive effects on climate change mitigation, improved renewable power capacity, and additional profits during pre-commercial operation of wind or solar farms,” Lal said.
The researchers also recommended the adoption of regulatory policies that would encourage bitcoin mining operations specifically designed to return some of their profits back into infrastructure development.
“This would help create a self-sustaining cycle for renewable energy expansion,” Lal concluded.
Christopher Plain is a Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist and Head Science Writer at The Debrief. Follow and connect with him on X, learn about his books at plainfiction.com, or email him directly at email@example.com.