Elon Musk Meets With North American Bitcoin Miners Regarding Energy Usage

Elon Musk hamming it up on SNL

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has reportedly met with leading Bitcoin miners based in North America regarding energy usage. According to sources familiar with the matter, the parties at the meeting have agreed to form a new organization called the Bitcoin Mining Council and publish transparency reports on current and planned renewable energy usage.

Attendees at the meeting also included executives from Argo Blockchain, Blockcap, Core Scientific, Galaxy Digital, Hive Blockchain, Hut 8 Mining, Marathon Digital Mining, and Riot Blockchain.

Tesla has previously suspended the option to purchase an electric vehicle with Bitcoin, officially due to concerns about the energy used to mine Bitcoin, although some data suggests that no one has actually purchased a Tesla vehicle using Bitcoin. This led to the expected flurry of suggestions of alternative cryptocurrencies, or “altcoins,” that make use of algorithms that are different from Bitcoin’s “Proof of Work” algorithm and may be more environmentally friendly enough for Tesla. Bitcoin miners are responsible for processing Bitcoin transactions in batches called blocks and the data is stored on a cryptographically secured ledger referred to as blockchain.

Khan Academy’s explanation of Bitcoin’s “Proof of Work” algorithm

Elon Musk has indicated that he would be willing to consider more environmentally friendly cryptocurrencies that can process transactions faster and with lower transaction fees than Bitcoin. Many early Bitcoin adopters have moved over to alternatives like Bitcoin Cash and DASH due to Bitcoin’s failure to effectively scale to meet demand for a usable digital currency.

The most recent available data indicates that current Bitcoin mining activities use 143 terawatt-hours as of the middle of May this year. This is more than the energy usage of some countries, including Argentina. Many Bitcoin miners seek out inexpensive sources of energy such as hydroelectric power to maximize their profits, even though this is not always available. Bitcoin mining activity in Norway, which is well-known for its investment in renewable energy, has put a strain on its energy resources, for instance.

The entire matter has been seen as the latest round of Elon Musk’s complicated relationship with cryptocurrencies. Both Bitcoin and Dogecoin hit all-time highs since Tesla began accepting it, but have since plummeted at around the time of Musk’s guest-hosting appearance on SNL. Some cryptocurrency insiders say that Musk was not to blame for the price drop, however.

Some cryptocurrency investors blame a sell-off led by large cryptocurrency holders, or “whales,” like Barry Silbert, who might seek to manipulate the price for their own gain. China has also announced plans to crack down on cryptocurrency mining and trading activities within its borders.

Elon Musk does not appear to have completely given up on cryptocurrency, however. Recently, SpaceX announced that it had accepted Dogecoin as payment for a satellite called “DOGE-1”, which will orbit the Moon and Elon Musk has also indicated that he plans to “HODL,” or refuse to sell, Dogecoin. In the overall tug-of-war between government-backed, or “fiat,” currency and cryptocurrency, Musk had this to say: