It’s no secret that generally speaking, cryptocurrencies are pretty bad for the environment. The mining and transactions can use unfathomable amounts of energy, so much so that Sweden believes for Europe to meet the Paris climate change goals, the continent needs to ban Bitcoin mining.
Usually, those environmental impacts feel a little detached from the actual act of mining or making transactions. But not in Montana where a crypto company has single handedly brought an almost obsolete coal plant back into production. It’s not often we get to see a crypto story so on the nose it involves actually reviving a coal plant to produce dirty power solely for the use of mining Bitcoin. Or at least last time it was nuclear powered instead.
The Guardian explains The 115-megawatt Hardin generating station coal plant has been limping onwards since it was initially set to close back in 2018. The nail was finally almost in the coffin in 2020 when the plant only operated for 46 days in the entire year. It seemed like a sure thing, but in swooped some crypto bros to save the poor polluting powerplant.
The company built a mining setup on the 20 acres of land besides the plant. At this point the plant was exclusively powering the 30,000 Antminer S19 units full facility to the point where it was even operating near full capacity to do so. While doing so it produced 34 Bitcoins on one day and emitted 206,000 tons of CO2 during that quarter. These emissions were over 900% more than when it certainly should have closed back in 2020.
The Hardin plant isn’t a unique story in the United States, where crypto companies are reviving power sources like this one to fuel their insatiable mining needs. It’s bad enough that crypto miners have made it impossible to source decently priced graphics cards for PC gamers, they could at least stop being Captain Planet levels of evil bad guys to the environment.