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The Interchange podcast: The crypto vs climate showdown

Digging deeper into the divide over crypto’s environmental impact.

1 minute read

In the great debate over crypto mining vs. climate, there are two camps.

First, the crypto enthusiasts, like Square, say things like, "Bitcoin is key to an abundant, clean energy future".

And then there’s the energy camp, who point out that, if bitcoin mining were a country, it would already be in the top 30 for total energy consumption, rivalling Ukraine.

The energy camp tends to dismiss the crypto enthusiasts’ thinking. They’re sceptical of how crypto mines could be assets to a decarbonizing grid, rather than a strain on it.

So to cut through the noise, joining this episode is Nick Grossman, a partner at the respected venture capital firm Union Square Ventures. USV was the largest early investor in Coinbase, which currently has a $49B market capitalization. But USV has gone big on climate tech and raised a specific climate fund. Nick straddles both the crypto and climate worlds, so he's the perfect person to help make some sense out of the madness.

This episode breaks down the basics of crypto currencies as energy-backed assets. They examine the argument that crypto mines improve the economics of renewables, because they will always be willing to buy cheap renewable power. This, in turn, helps to finance the overbuilding of renewable projects to help meet peak demand, or so the thinking goes.

But do intermittent renewables improve the economics of crypto mines? In other words: Is it profitable to mine intermittently?

The episode also sees discussion on green bitcoin certificates and alternatives to the energy-intensive proof-of-work crypto security model: proof of stake, proof of space-time, and proof of location.

View the landing page to hear all episodes of The Interchange Recharged.