Bitmain rolled out its next generation Antminer S21 and S21 Hydro ASIC miners at the World Digital Mining Summit in Hong Kong on Sept 22, revealing the crucial performance stats that the entire industry has been waiting for. The S21 has a hasrate at 200 TH/s and an efficiency at 17.5 J/T while the S21 hydro hashes at 335 TH/s and 16 J/T which is notable given that until recently, most Bitcoin ASICS were operating above the 20 J/T level.
With electricity costs continuing to rise year-over-year and the Bitcoin halving projected to occur in April 2024, ASIC efficiency is quickly becoming the paramount focus of miners and many are also pivoting toward folding in renewable energy sources as a core component of their operations.
Bitcoin miners focus on efficiency and renewable energy
Sustainable development in the mining industry was a core theme discussed in a majority of the panels at the WDMS and in the opening roundtable team members from Terrawulf, Core Scientific, CleanSpark and Iris Energy shared their perspectives on how further integration of renewable energy sources will become a critical strategy to implement for many miners after the April 2024 Bitcoin supply halving.
According to Nazar Khan, Terrawulf COO,
“There’s a significant transition going on in the supply side of the generation process, there’s a concerted effort to decarbonize the entire supply stack and so when we talk about Bitocin miners consuming more renewable energy that’s part of a broader theme that’s happening across the United States without Bitcoin mining as well. The role that we play is locating our Bitcoin mining loads in places where that’s happening and how do we facilitate that decarbonization process.
One impact of the upcoming supply halving is that miners will maintain the same capital and operational costs, plus the need to pay down any revolving debts, while essentially seeing their block reward distribution cut in half.
For this reason, miners will either need to increase the percentage of their hashrate that is derived from sustainable energy sources or make efficiency adjustments to their ASIC fleet in order maintain or increase their profitability.
Regarding the rollout of the Antminer XP 21 and its potential impact on the mining industry, BMC founder Justin Kramer said:
“The S21, if reliable, fairly priced, and readily available, and yes,that’s a lot of if’s with Bitmain’s history, could revolutionize the crypto mining landscape with its efficiency. It is basically packing the power of two S19 100T miners into one unit. Despite this, the burgeoning aftermarket firmware market, coupled with hydro/immersion systems, give miners more tools to keep older generation miners, such as the S19, profitable also. Thus, while the S21 represents a notable advancement, it may not render sub 110 TH/s miners entirely obsolete.”
When asked about the more exciting aspects of the new S19 XP, Kramer noted that:
“I like that Bitmain is rewarding environmentally friendly mining farms with better pricing and advanced delivery with their new Carbon Neutral Certificate. But, I’ll add that, it was a little surprising when I noticed that both new S21 models offer 33% more hashrate (S21 200T versus 151T on S19j XP; S21 hydro is 335T versus the S19 XP Hydro at 257T). Is this a coincidence? I’m doubtful and it likely signals more of the same systematic model releases from Bitmain where a slight tweak to the firmware and maybe a few other items that are adjusted results in a moderate increase in hashrate and a brand-new miner.”
Bitcoin is en route to becoming an ESG asset
A theme of the past few years has been an increase in Bitcoin miners and BTC advocates pushing back against the assertion that Bitcoin mining is bad for the environment and that the industry’s reliance on carbon based energy production accelerates emissions.
Countering this perspective, Hong Kong Sustaintech Foundation Professor in Accounting and Finance, Haitian Lu bluntly announced that:
“Bitcoin mining is promoting renewable energy adoption in many areas.”
Lu explained that, “ver the years, Bitcoin mining has become more efficient and is also using cleaner energy. History tells us that human development from an agricultural society, to industrialization, to the the future of digitalized economy goes with every increasing energy consumption per capita. What makes the difference is human’s ability to use renewable energy increases, thus achieving sustainable development.”
Similar to the perspectives shared by other panelists, Lu said that Bitcoin miners participation in demand response agreements with power producers and distributors leads to energy grid efficiency and they “provide an economic incentive for the development of renewable energy “promotion and development of renewable energy projects.”
In addition to Bitcoin mining tapping into stranded energy, encouraging the development of renewable energy projects and helping to balance electric grids, the efficiency advancements of next generation ASICs like the Antminer S21 reduce miners’ energy consumption while also allowing them to boost their profits.