Critics say the enormous electricity consumption needed to sustain cryptocurrency is fueling the climate crisis and now threatens a partial resurrection of coal in the US
Environmentalists in Montana called it the “death watch”. Following years of financial losses one of the handful of remaining coal-fired power plants in the state appeared doomed, its likely fate offering a small but noteworthy victory in the effort to avoid disastrous climate change. But then a bitcoin mining company stepped in to resurrect it.
The Hardin generating station, a 115-megawatt coal plant located a dozen miles from the historic site of the famous battle of Little Big Horn in southern Montana, was slated for closure in 2018 due to a lack of customers only to somehow limp on, operating on just 46 days in 2020. “We were just waiting for this thing to die,” said Anne Hedges, co-director of the Montana Environmental Information Center. “They were struggling and looking to close. It was on the brink. And then this cryptocurrency company came along.”