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Crypto became much less harmful to the environment in 2022 after Ethereum, the second largest blockchain, reduced carbon emissions by 99%. That puts even more focus on Bitcoin, which is estimated to have emitted 86.3 million tons of carbon by 2022.

Nuclear energy can help. Cumulus Data has completed a data center attached to the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania and plans to begin hosting space for Bitcoin mining company TeraWulf this year. The completion of the center, which was announced last week by Cumulus Data, is being set up as the first nuclear-powered bitcoin mine in the US.

That means any Bitcoin mined through the hub will be carbon free.

Bitcoin mining requires a huge amount of energy. Computers around the world compete to solve complex cryptographic puzzles, with the first to do so being rewarded with new Bitcoin. The more computing power you have at your disposal, the more likely you are to solve the problem. In order to be competitive, Bitcoin miners created warehouses filled with computing devices dedicated to the process, which consume large amounts of electricity.

Because renewable energy sources tend to be cheaper, Bitcoin miners often base their operations on solar, wind or hydro farms. It is estimated that over 55% of Bitcoin is mined using renewable energy, which crypto advocates often claim, arguing that Bitcoin is actually good for the environment due to its promotion of renewable energy. But bitcoin’s emissions remain huge, and nuclear power is increasingly seen as a way to reduce it.

Cumulus Data’s layout is one of many. Oklo is an energy startup that plans to build a small nuclear power plant. it signed a 20-year contract with Bitcoin mining company Compass Mining. Miami’s pro-crypto mayor has tried to attract bitcoin miners from China by touting the city’s massive nuclear power.

The system by which Bitcoin is mined, with computers competing to solve the puzzle, is called “proof of work.” Its purpose is to make Bitcoin invulnerable. You need to control more than 51% of the bitcoin network’s computing power to overwhelm the system. Last year, Ethereum switched from proof-of-work to a system called “proof-of-stake,” where people contribute ether to the network for a chance to be selected to “verify” transactions, for which they are rewarded with ether tokens.

Basically, proof of work is people spending electricity to earn bitcoin, and proof of stake is people putting money into the system. As a result of the switch, Ethereum’s carbon footprint has been reduced by more than 99%. There is no substantial proposal for Bitcoin to make the same transition.

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