By Amy Beth Hanson, AP News
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — For the past year a company that “mines” cryptocurrency had what seemed the ideal location for its thousands of power-thirsty computers working around the clock to verify bitcoin transactions: the grounds of a coal-fired power plant in rural Montana.
But with the cryptocurrency industry under increasing pressure to rein in the environmental impact of its massive electricity consumption, Marathon Digital Holdings made the decision to pack up its computers, called miners, and relocate them to a wind farm in Texas.
“For us, it just came down to the fact that we don’t want to be operating on fossil fuels,” said company CEO Fred Thiel.
In the world of bitcoin mining, access to cheap and reliable electricity is everything. But many economists and environmentalists have warned that as the still widely misunderstood digital currency grows in price — and with it popularity — the process of mining that is central to its existence and value is becoming increasingly energy intensive and potentially unsustainable.