Bitcoin miner Marathon Digital (MARA) has started a pilot mining project in Utah that is using methane gas generated from landfill waste to make electricity to power mining operations.
According to a statement, the miner partnered with Nodal Power, a firm that develops and operates renewable energy assets, for the 280 kilowatt (kW) test project. Marathon may expand its methane-based operation if the test project meets its expectations, the statement added.
“Marathon’s pilot project is part of a broader initiative being conducted by the Company to validate its ability to capture methane emitted from landfills, convert it into electricity, and then use that electricity to power Bitcoin miners,” the firm said.
This isn’t the first time a mining firm is looking to generate electricity – the major cost for a miner – from an alternative source while attempting to mitigate greenhouse emission-related problems.
Last year, a startup, Vespene Energy, said it raised funds to mine bitcoin from a similar energy source. Elsewhere, miners such as Crusoe Energy have been setting up remote facilities to use otherwise wasted natural gas to power mining operations. In the process, they have been reducing the amount of methane gas – the largest component of natural gas – released into the atmosphere.
“The methane naturally produced from landfills, biowaste, and elsewhere is often stranded, and Bitcoin miners like Marathon are uniquely positioned to help convert this harmful gas into a productive source of clean, renewable energy,” Marathon Chairman and CEO Fred Thiel said.
Methane gas is 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide for 20 years after it is released into the environment, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that municipal solid waste emissions accounted for approximately 14.3% of all methane emissions in the United States in 2021.
“At Marathon, we are constantly seeking innovative ways to diversify our operations, lower our energy costs, and leverage the unique aspects of Bitcoin mining to better the environments in which we operate,” said Thiel.
“By capturing the methane emitted from landfills and converting it into electricity to power our Bitcoin miners, we may have an opportunity to accomplish all of those goals simultaneously,” he added.