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Vespene Energy Raises $4.3M to Turn Methane From Landfills Into Sustainable Bitcoin Mining

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James
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In Brief

  • Vespene Energy is partnering with landfill owners in the U.S. to harness methane using small turbines and generate electricity for bitcoin mining.
  • A renowned ESG analyst opines that removing methane from the atmosphere is more beneficial to the environment than removing carbon.
  • Benefits to landfill owners depend on the nature of the cryptocurrency markets.
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Vespene Energy has received $4.3 million in funding from Polychain Capital and others to continue converting methane gas from landfills into power for bitcoin mining.

The company generates energy from methane gas found in landfills using small turbines.

The United Nations has said that methane gas has a 28-34 times greater warming effect in a 100-year cycle. Over 20 years, its potential increases to 84-86 times.

Accordingly, companies have looked for innovative ways to reduce the impact of methane emissions and harness the gas to mine bitcoin.

Globally mining In the U.S., Exxon Mobil has partnered with Crusoe Energy Systems to pipeline stranded natural gas into generators. This energy is used to mine bitcoin.

Australian energy company Black Mountain Energy is awaiting a decision from the Minister for Environment on whether the company will be allowed to harness methane from gas wellheads to generate electricity for bitcoin mining.

Lawmakers have criticized the use of fossil fuels to power bitcoin mining, arguing that such initiatives shift the conversation away from a transition to cleaner energy sources. Environmental advocates in Australia suggest that new miners looking to establish themselves in Australia should be forced to use renewable energy, not contribute to fracking. Concerns also abound around the potential for increasing industrialization of natural havens.

Vespene claims mutual benefits for itself and landfill owners

A well-known environmental, social and governance analyst Daniel Batten has claimed that removing one ton of methane emissions is more effective than removing the same amount of carbon dioxide. In his view, cleanly burning the gas to generate electricity is the answer. Methane is produced in landfills and agriculture, but once burnt, produces gases that do not contribute to global warming.

Vespene claims that U.S. landfills account for 15% of the country’s methane emissions, while a survey by NASA suggests that number is about a third of the actual emissions.

Vespene suggests that over 70% of the nation’s 2,600 landfill sites do not have a way to harness the methane produced and that an arrangement to use its turbines would be mutually beneficial for itself and landfill owners. Such an arrangement would help bitcoin mining transition to carbon-negative sources, it said.

But there is a caveat to the rosy claims. Landfill owners can sign a profit-sharing agreement that will see them benefit only during bitcoin bull runs.

California will be the first beneficiary

Vespene, now flush with cash, will build a pilot operation in California, in a move it claims makes it the first company to convert landfill methane to bitcoin. The project will take four to six months to consolidate. Each installation will remove 270,000 metric tons of equivalent CO2 from the atmosphere.

The recent crypto market rout has not been kind to mining companies. Mining revenues have been impacted to the point where some institutional miners have offloaded bitcoins to improve liquidity.

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David Thomas
David Thomas graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa, with an Honors degree in electronic engineering. He worked as an engineer for eight years, developing software for industrial processes at South African automation specialist Autotronix (Pty) Ltd., mining control systems for AngloGold Ashanti, and consumer products at Inhep Digital Security, a domestic security company wholly owned by Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy. He has experience writing software in C,...