In 2018, the global cryptocurrency market had crashed, and Sergii Gerasymovych was looking for a way to keep his Bitcoin mining company afloat. He eventually settled on a plan to make money while cleaning up two notoriously climate-polluting industries.
Gerasymovych’s biggest headache—as for all Bitcoin miners—was the price of electricity. Bitcoin miners compete against one other to unlock coins by solving increasingly difficult math problems with fleets of computers. This consumes a lot of power globally: about as much as Argentina each year. Bitcoin miners’ profit margin largely relies on the gap between electricity bills and Bitcoin’s value; if the latter drops, the only way to make up the margin is to curb the former. That’s why so much of the world’s cryptocurrency mining is tied to low-cost coal and hydroelectric plants in Asia. Gerasymovych was hunting for cheap power in the US and stumbled on an intriguing source: Flare gas from natural gas wells. Now, a number of market trends are converging to propel a nascent industry in gas-powered Bitcoin.