Cryptocurrency mining has received a lot of criticism for its energy consumption and carbon output over the past 18 months. In this livestream, Compass talks with a pair of mining CEOs about what “clean” or sustainable mining actually means.

Both guests on this livestream share their opinions and perspectives on how clean mining is now, what should change in the future, and what is misunderstood about “clean” mining. The conversation is key for anyone who cares about the developing environmental narratives around Bitcoin mining and how both sides of these conversations can be better educated and more productive.

Video Recording

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Audio Version

Show Notes

Introduction (timestamp)

  • Peter Wall, CEO of Argo Blockchain: He's been involved with Argo since it launched in 2018, but discovered Bitcoin through working at a co-working space in Indonesia that was encouraged to accept Bitcoin as payment for leases. In 2018, a friend asked him to help launch a mining company (Argo), and he's been building the company ever since.
  • Dave Perrill, CEO of Compute North: He's been in the data center and management center for 25 years. There's so many similarities between the early Internet era and bitcoin mining. In 2017, he discovered the mining sector of mining at the Money 2020 conference. It compelled him to learn more about the efficiency and unique computing dynamics of mining.

What does sustainable mining actually mean? (timestamp)

  • Sustainable mining is now a really hot topic, and the transition in conversation over the past couple years has been remarkable.
  • Mining's customer base has changed significantly. More people have ESG mandates.
  • Pushing back against Bitcoin's energy use is a lazy argument though.
  • More miners are deciding to only operate in areas where there's cheap and renewable or "clean" power.

What ESG mandates or policies do Argo and Compute North have? (timestamp)

  • Most mining companies focus on the "E" and less so the "S" and "G".
  • Compute North: how do we make renewable energy sources make sense for mining?
  • Compute North: how to we educate our customers with proper information about mining, energy consumption, carbon output, etc.?
  • Compute North: no required carbon offsets or strict ESG mandates, but focusing on new energy sources.
  • Argo: signed and joined a plethora of environment-focused councils and agreements to show their commitment to cleaner energy sources.
  • Argo: focuses on the "S" and "G", not only the "E".

Why is ESG such a hot topic for mining now, and not a few years ago? (timestamp)

  • There are lots of reasons why ESG is a focus for mining right now, but there's no one specific catalyst. People are just concerned about the environment, rightly or wrongly.
  • Also, this is the easiest FUD to slam on against Bitcoin mining.
  • If Bitcoin is worth anything, mining is worthwhile. If someone doesn't see value in Bitcoin, they'll automatically see mining as a waste.
  • There are so many analogies to what's happening in mining now to what happened in the early Internet.
  • There's so much newness and strangeness to mining now that most normal people just don't understand it, so they hate on it.
  • Critics aren't concerned about the energy use as much as what type of energy is generated.

How do we get miners and ESG advocates to speak the same language? (timestamp)

  • ESG consultants that have worked with Argo new so little about mining and had lots of false preconceived notions about mining. Communicating accurate knowledge is key to changing the narrative.
  • Miners should be educators because people want to learn more.
  • There's lots of misinformation floating around on all sides.
  • Bitcoin's Proof of Work is the industry standard, and while there are other projects doing cool things, Bitcoin will always be around and always be the standard.
  • Mining is very different than it was four years ago. Miners were perceived as a parasitic load, but that's quickly changing although it takes time to totally reverse in the media and mainstream thought.

The next five years of ESG-focused mining efforts (timestamp)

  • It's up to individual companies to decide when and how much they want to use renewable power sources.
  • Some companies who said they don't care what type of power they use are now slowly change course and focus more on the sources of their energy.
  • But miners will always want the cheapest energy, and renewable power an become the cheapest power for miners.

The next few years for Compute North and Argo Blockchain (timestamp)

  • Compute North: focused on achieving nearly 90% clean energy use and working to integrate non-mining forms of compute into their operations.
  • Argo Blockchain: focusing on building a farm in West Texas, expanding their use of clean power, and building out a non-mining side of the company focused on Web 3 and decentralized finance.

Hosted by Zack Voell and Will Foxley