Thursday, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the energy implications of blockchains. And more specifically Bitcoin mining.
Several experts joined the panel, including Bitfury CEO Brian Brooks, Cornell professor Ari Jules and Soluna Computing CEO John Belizaire. The conversation centered around proof-of-work (PoW), the consensus mechanism behind Bitcoin mining, and its consumption of energy.
Here’s the top three discussion points to know coming out of the hearing.
Brooks continues to be a well-versed advocate for the industry.
Although new to Bitfury, Brooks remains well known in the Bitcoin community. Most notably, he recently served as the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) under former President Donald Trump. While in position, Brooks pressed several key regulatory articles to the benefit of the cryptocurrency industry.
During the hearing, Brooks emphasized the distinction between PoW systems and Proof-of-Stake (PoS), another type of consensus mechanism many alternative cryptocurrencies use. As Brooks pointed out, PoS systems do not operate as substitutes for PoW.
Altcoin proponents attack Proof-of-Work.
Jules, an early Ethereum developer and PoS advocate, also joined the hearing. Jules made several attacks on PoW systems, including the citation of a 1999 paper he co-authored describing PoW as “inherently wasteful” [sic].
Jules called for adoption of alternate consensus mechanisms, particularly PoS which consumes “far less electricity.”
Belizaire defends Bitcoin energy usage
Lastly, Belizaire – a relatively unknown renewable energy firm mining Bitcoin – explained the importance of Bitcoin mining within the renewable energy sector.
Up to 30% of renewable energy sources can be curtailed or wasted, “shrinking profitability” for operators, he claimed. Bitcoin mining, Belizaire argued, stands as a flexible load balancer for “antiquated” electrical grids, a necessary buyer of energy and “crucible for the financial freedom of millions of people.”
“Crypto's energy usage is a feature, not a bug … The narrative is wrong. Crypto computing can be a catalyst for clean energy development, which will reduce pollution and create local jobs.”