Bitcoin mining operation criticized by Musk will go carbon neutral

Elon Musk announced this week that Tesla would pause accepting Bitcoin for Tesla purchases, citing the cryptocurrency’s energy usage. He also specifically criticized one fossil fuel power plant in New York, which as Arstechnica reported, was revived to mine Bitcoin. Now the firm behind that plant, Greenidge, is already making moves.

Greenidge announced Friday (via Reuters) that its Bitcoin mining operations will be carbon neutral starting June 1st.

Greenidge Generation Holdings Inc said on Friday it will operate an entirely carbon-neutral bitcoin mining operation at its upstate New York facility starting on June 1.

The company said it will purchase voluntary carbon offsets from a portfolio of U.S. greenhouse gas reduction projects. The company converted its power generation operations from coal to natural gas in 2017.

This certainly seems to have come in response to Elon’s criticisms, although it’s worth noting that Elon’s initial take was partly misinformed.

Based on Elon’s tweets, it seems he conflated coal power plants powering Bitcoin mining elsewhere in the world with Greenidge’s natural gas operations — which, while still not renewable, is certainly much less detrimental to the environment in terms of carbon intensity.

Now, Greenidge will operate entirely carbon-neutral by way of carbon offsets.

The plant being carbon-neutral is likely not enough to silence Bitcoin’s critics. The energy conversation around Bitcoin is often used as a proxy for another question: Is Bitcoin worthwhile or valuable at all? If one rejects that proposition, no amount of energy use will seem justified, no matter how green (or in this case, offset).

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