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‘Green’ Bitcoin miner Iris Energy doubles its fundraise ahead of IPO

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A firm from Australia that uses renewable energy to mine Bitcoin (among other businesses) has raised two times the intended capital in a recent round.

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Doubling valuation

Iris Energy, an Australian data center that powers Bitcoin mining firms, has doubled its fundraising round to A$40 million ($31 million) ahead of an initial public offering (IPO), as per a report on Bloomberg today.

Mining, for the uninitiated, uses up a massive computing system that solves millions of complex calculations each second to validate transactions on the Bitcoin network (a process known as ‘proof of work’). The miners receive a ‘reward’ in the form of BTC in return, but the extensive resources used up to do so have attracted scrutiny.

Iris’ cleaner approach to mining is its USP. The firm utilizes renewable sources of energy (such as solar and wind) to power its power which in turn powers data high-performance computing applications—which span from mining to artificial energy to smart cities and farming.

This has arguably increased its value for investors. As per the report, the firm expanded the offering following a A$13 million (US$10 million) commitment from Platinum Asset Management. It had originally set a A$20 million (US$15.6 million) target for its second pre-IPO fundraising and is planning to go public in mid-2021.

The fundraising proceeds would be used to build a 50-megawatt data center in British Columbia, Canada, adding to an already-funded 30-megawatt project. As per its site, the latter is located in Canal Flats, British Columbia, Canada where it currently operates 9MW and expansion underway to 30MW of power (with 130MW+ total expansion potential)—with a near-term growth pipeline across Western Canada exceeding 750MW.

Some of the clients listed on Iris’ site are MicroBT, Bitmain, and Canaan, three of the world’s largest Bitcoin miners. Their exact relationship is unknown, but the firms operate mining farms all over the world in places like China and Canada.

Greener Bitcoin

Iris’ fundraise comes on the back of growing concerns regarding Bitcoin’s energy usage. Reports suggest the asset uses up enough electricity to power up a country the size of Norway—for a little benefit to the world in return.

With such energy usage comes a massive carbon footprint, calculated by the amount of by-products generated while creating power via traditional sources. Environmental activists have repeatedly flagged this as a concern in recent times.

But new firms are seeking to quell those aspects. Renewable energy sources can provide steady, cheap energy to mine Bitcoin while reducing the overall carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, newer Bitcoin investors are seemingly looking to invest in such “green” mining centers as well. This week, Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank fame said he had allocated 3% of his portfolio to Bitcoin and was additionally looking to invest in ‘greener’ mining businesses.

“I am looking at investing in miners that can create coin under a mandate of 0 carbon so sustainably,” he said in a tweet. And Iris’ raise shows there are several others thinking on the same lines.

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