As the debate over cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint rages on, leading bitcoin miner Blockstream is developing new zero-carbon Bitcoin mining facilities in partnership with Australia-based financial services giant Macquarie Group, according to a company blog post.

Fast facts

  • The first pilot site will be in the U.S. where Blockstream will leverage Macquarie’s experience in green investments to power the operation through renewable energy. At this point, no details on the precise nature of the renewables or how they will be implanted have been given.
  • In a separate press release, Blockstream CEO Adam Back said: “Macquarie’s experience and scale in traditional infrastructure investment, as well as commodity and energy markets, and Blockstream’s position as a leading Bitcoin miner and provider of Bitcoin-based technology solutions offers terrific potential.”
  • Blockstream has had an interest in exploring alternative energy solutions for some time; most recently it partnered with payments giant Square to develop an open-source, solar-powered Bitcoin mining facility in the U.S. The open-source nature of the project is intended to share insights gained from the project with the broader community to assist with clean energy adoption in the industry. Before that, it also partnered with Norway’s Aker to explore options of renewable power optimization in periods of low demand by routing surplus power during these times to mining facilities.
  • Cryptocurrency’s environmental impact has been a highly contested issue within the industry of late, especially following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s decision to abandon plans to accept Bitcoin for the company’s products citing environmental concerns. This decision — along with the Chinese government’s crackdown on Bitcoin mining — is often cited as a key driver of the market-wide crash in late May.
  • The concern rests with how networks such as Bitcoin — known as “proof-of-work” blockchains — are mined; whereby network participants who contribute to validating transactions on the blockchain are rewarded with the opportunity to earn BTC for doing so. Due to the complex cryptographic nature of these computations, it is an extremely energy-intensive process.