CH4Capital, an investment fund, is currently in the process of raising $400 million in capital with the aim of transforming bitcoin mining into a carbon-negative activity through the utilization of methane gas.
Daniel Batten, the driving force behind CH4Capital, has made a bold claim that bitcoin mining will ultimately remove more emissions from the environment than it generates. This technology, which has faced criticism for its environmental impact, is now poised to become an environmental ally.
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The objective is to produce electricity for mining operations by burning landfill gas. Batten enthusiastically states to Forbes, “If we successfully implement this on a large scale, our capital can make the entire bitcoin network carbon negative.”
Landfill gas, typically a combination of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), is generated through the decomposition of organic matter by bacteria and chemical processes. Methane is considered a highly potent greenhouse gas, contributing significantly to climate change. Although it dissipates more quickly in the atmosphere than CO2, its warming effect is 25 times stronger, making it a crucial factor in greenhouse gas emission calculations. Landfills are recognized as major contributors of greenhouse gases, alongside energy production, animal agriculture, and rice cultivation.
In Germany alone, it is estimated that approximately 2.5 billion cubic meters of landfill gas are released annually, with around 1.5 billion cubic meters consisting of methane gas. The total energy potential of landfill gas amounts to 15,000 gigawatt hours. When burned, one-third of the gas is converted to CO2 and two-thirds to H2O, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in the greenhouse effect. Paradoxically, the act of burning gas contributes to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
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Generating electricity from landfill gas is already a well-established practice in the European Union and the United States. Therefore, CH4Capital has set its sights on countries where landfills currently release methane gas directly into the atmosphere, as explained by Daniel Batten on Twitter. While it may be economically feasible to integrate the energy into the power grid in some cases, network expansion would be necessary in most instances. Bitcoin mining can play a role in bridging these gaps.
Batten highlights that the untapped methane gas from landfills can generate 17 gigawatts of electricity, which is sufficient to power all bitcoin miners, even according to conservative estimates. Additionally, given that a significant portion of mining operations already rely on renewable energy sources, even a small contribution from landfill gas can render Bitcoin carbon negative overall.
Batten urges existing and prospective miners to reach out to CH4Capital to explore collaboration opportunities starting in August. He proposes that a country with 35 medium-sized landfills could enable Bitcoin to become carbon neutral or even carbon negative.
Through the batcoinz website, Batten operates as a proponent of environmentally friendly Bitcoin practices. He challenges the emissions data determined by researchers from Cambridge University, presenting more favorable figures in response. While some may be inclined to accuse him of greenwashing by downplaying the environmental impact of mining, Batten is taking action with CH4Capital to address emissions and support climate-conscious initiatives, offering an alternative approach to mining instead of resorting to a complete ban like China.