crypto

Bitcoin mining company looks to go nuclear

Oklo, a nuclear energy startup, wants to build mini-reactors—and Compass, a bitcoin mining startup, aims to use them for cleaner mining
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A rendering of an Oklo mini power plant; Credit: Oklo

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We’ve found our winner for wildest energy partnership of the week. Two US startups pledged this morning to bring nuclear-powered bitcoin mining online in the “early 2020s.”

Mini-reactor, meet mining rigs

  1. Oklo aims to build lil’ nuclear reactors (see artist rendering above). And while the California startup has made regulatory headway, it still must receive a license to actually operate its planned micro-reactors.
  2. Compass runs an online marketplace for crypto mining. Customers purchase equipment and select a host facility in the US, Canada, or Iceland. The company runs interference behind the scenes, procuring equipment, moving it around the world, and matching customers with crypto farms.
  3. The energy partnership will last 20 years, Oklo’s target lifetime for its plants. “There’s a natural inevitability to a shift and combination of bitcoin, advanced nuclear technology, and clean energy,” Oklo CEO Jacob DeWitte told the Brew.

Two birds, one stone?

Two of 2021’s defining crypto stories are a) the growing spotlight on mining’s carbon footprint and b) Chinese authorities booting operations from within their borders. The latter is triggering a global realignment of bitcoin network’s hash rate.

  • “We consider nuclear to be an ideal power source for bitcoin mining because it's plentiful, reliable, inexpensive, and carbon-free,” Compass CEO Whit Gibbs told us.

If the partnership fully comes to pass, it could be an early use case for Oklo’s technology. Along with crypto, DeWitte also highlighted data centers and indoor growing facilities as energy customers that “allow us to decouple site-dependent dynamics that sometimes slow the deployment of new projects.” Finally, the partnership could be good PR for bitcoiners, helping them make the case that mining can be decentralized and decarbonized.—RD

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.