26 January 2021, Brandenburg, Schwanebeck: Snow lies on the former landfill. The 52-hectare landfill ... [+]dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
Bitcoin mining may soon be reducing more emissions than its energy sources produce according to Daniel Batten, cofounder of CH4Capital. Batten is a partner in a fund raising $400 million to fund projects mitigating vented methane from landfills by using the gas to mine bitcoin.
“Once fully deployed, we will have enough capital to take the entire Bitcoin Network carbon negative,” Batten told me in our interview, a claim that flies in the face of recent high profile bitcoin critics.
“Like eVs, bitcoin does not have any direct emissions, [but] we want to go one step further and also mitigate all emissions caused by use of electricity,” Batten said about the fund’s intent. According to him, by targeting landfills that vent their methane, they can mitigate emissions ten times faster than other techniques.
Batten is confident his project can make significant impact. There are several companies who are already using bitcoin mining as a tool to monetize this waste and mitigate landfill emissions. These companies have paved the way for Batten and his team to pursue this effort.
Crypto Confidential: Forbes' definitive guide to crypto and blockchain, delivered to your inbox every Saturday.
Bryan Black is Co-founder and CEO of Nodal Power, a renewable power company that is tapping into landfills for methane to generate electricity. “In some instances, we have looked at sites that we will develop a plant with a datacenter, then graduate that project to a grid tied site,” Black told me about the progression of their site development.
Black offered that Nodal is not a bitcoin mining company, rather they have found that datacenters and tech have allowed them to expand their market footprint in a unique manner. Bitcoin mining has been a key tool they used in order for Nodal to prove landfill gas projects can operate reliably and efficiently off grid.
Nodal raised $13 million in 2021 in order to begin their landfill projects. They have also filed two patents related to the technology they have developed for the use of biogas in an off grid set up. Nodal is currently engaged with an investment bank to raise $60m in equity in order to continue their expansion.
“Simply put, we know what we are doing is good for the landfills, good for the local power markets, good for the expansion of technology and good for the environment,” Black concluded.
Adam Wright is cofounder and CEO of Vespene Energy, a biogas to energy developer that co-locates datacenters, such as bitcoin mining, with electricity generation assets. This technique allows them to derive immediate financial value from the biogas without having to wait for grid connections.
In our interview, Wright described the lucrative market that large landfill operators have, selling their captured methane as renewable natural gas. The math however doesn't work as well with smaller sites due to high capital requirements.
“We target these smaller sites, develop them into energy projects to cleanly combust the methane, and use the energy on-site,” Wright told me in our interview.
“Over time, as energy prices change and other markets develop for biogas-derived power, we can pivot into other revenue sources,” Wright said about the future of the company.
Though Vespene and Nodal are not purely dedicated to mining bitcoin, their business operations have served as an important proof of concept in the space. It is bitcoin mining’s scalability and transportability that allows operators to monetize energy at the source.
This unique attribute will allow Batten’s team to target smaller landfills which may not be suitable for grid connections or larger gas collecting operations. Bitcoin’s incentives are starting to play out all across the energy sector. The economic value provided by these incentives are driving a cleaner future, without the need for regulatory coercion.