Marathon Brings The Heat As Bitcoin Halving Approaches

While to the greater Bitcoin culture, Bitcoin halvings are seen as a celebratory event, for miners, things tend to be a tad stressful. As Bitcoiners around the world gather to celebrate block 840,000, miners are hunkering down and preparing for their reward for mining blocks to decrease by 50%, while the cost of their operations remains the same.

With the next bitcoin halving scheduled to occur on April 19, one might imagine that Fred Thiel, CEO of Marathon Digital Holdings, the largest publicly-traded Bitcoin mining company in the world, might be worried. But after sitting down with Thiel just days before the halving, he doesn’t appear to be breaking a sweat.

Why’s that?

One of the reasons is that Marathon plans to generate alternative streams of revenue utilizing the heat emitted from its bitcoin mining rigs.

“Bitcoin mining in and of itself does something very efficiently, which is produce heat,” Thiel told Bitcoin Magazine. “50% of industrial energy spend is spent to heat things, so imagine if you could capture the heat from Bitcoin miners and Bitcoin miners could get paid for that. That would subsidize their cost of electricity.”

During a fireside chat with Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) at the Bitcoin Policy Summit, held on April 9, 2024 in Washington, DC, Thiel shared an example of how Marathon plans to utilize the heat its miners produce.

“One of the things we’re doing in Nebraska actually is we’re starting to heat greenhouses and do shrimp farming using the heat from Bitcoin mining as a byproduct,” Thiel explained to Senator Lummis.

“I think you’re going to start seeing this as a way for people to grow proteins in areas of the disadvantaged world,” he added.

Utilizing the heat Marathon’s miners produce is one of the ways in which Thiel is looking to change the perception of Bitcoin mining from something that’s parasitic to something that’s productive.

This dovetails well with the fact that Marathon continues to improve its ability to use waste gas as fuel for its miners.

Toward the end of 2023, Marathon launched a pilot project in which it mined bitcoin with energy derived solely with landfill methane, a gas that’s 80x more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

The project was a success, according to Thiel.

“It was a proof of concept that showed that you could successfully mine bitcoin using landfill methane gas,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. “Mining on landfills is very hard, but we were able to prove that you could do it quite successfully.”

Thiel expanded on these efforts in his conversation with Senator Lummis, tying together the ideas that Marathon could produce this heat it plans to use while having a positive impact on the environment.

“You generate energy with that by turning it into methane and then converting that into electricity and you create heat with the electricity,” he told Senator Lummis. “If you can take a waste product, turn it into energy and feed heat back into an industrial process, you do more for the environment than a lot of environmentalists want. And at the same time, your cost to mine bitcoin becomes very small because your energy cost is low.”