Bitcoin mining is a process that requires a significant amount of electricity. In fact, electricity accounts for roughly 90% of the cost of doing business for a Bitcoin miner. Because of this miners are always looking for cheaper and cheaper power. Wasted (or stranded) energy from methane can be very low cost. Wasted and stranded energy goes unused and often times requires flaring (an additional cost) for industries that cause methane emissions. Many sources of methane are too far from city centers or electrical infrastructure to be economical to bring to consumers so it is often times flared or vented into the atmosphere which impacts the climate.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere from a variety of sources including landfills, agriculture, waste water treatment facilities, and fossil fuel industries. When methane is released into the atmosphere, it traps heat and contributes to global warming and climate change. Methane on average is 84x worse for warming over a 20 year period and 27x worse over a 100 year period. Reducing methane emissions is a critical component in combating climate change. Unmitigated methane can also leak into the ground which could cause ground water contamination.
The sources of methane range from landfills, agriculture, waste water treatment facilities and fossil fuel operations. Miners can locate their operations at the site where these emissions are being generated and use the methane as a fuel source for their operations. Some of these forms of methane are considered by the EPA to be a source of renewable energy for the mining process. Some environmentalists have even calculated that the Bitcoin network can even turn carbon (equivalent) negative if enough methane is mitigated.
In addition to reducing emissions, using methane as a source of renewable energy for Bitcoin mining can also have other benefits. For example, it can help to reduce the waste of a valuable energy source. It can help to generate revenue for methane producers, such as landfill operators and waste water treatment facilities, which can support the growth and development of these industries.
Ultimately, Bitcoin mining has the potential to help reduce emissions by using methane from a wide range of industries which will help have a positive impact on the climate and the environment. Miners can also help generate revenue and create jobs in ways that other consumers of energy cannot.