You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger financial story in 2021 than the meteoric rise of Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency powerhouse approaching a $1 trillion market cap. But Bitcoin also grabbed headlines for something else – researchers at Cambridge University revealed that the energy used to mine the crypto is equivalent to the annual carbon footprint of Argentina. A few months later, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment due to its increasing use of fossil fuels for mining.
Buried beneath the headlines is the fact that there are other ways to mine Bitcoin that involve a much smaller carbon footprint.
One company trying to share that message is TeraWulf, which operates fully integrated and environmentally clean Bitcoin mining facilities in the United States, powered by nuclear, hydro and solar energy.
The Easton, Maryland-based company claims to use more than 90% zero-carbon energy to mine for Bitcoin, with the goal of reaching 100% zero-carbon emissions by 2030.
This is big news in an industry that is under increased scrutiny for its negative environmental impact.
As TeraWulf notes on its own website, crypto mining requires vast amounts of energy to power the computers that verify and record cryptocurrency transactions. In some cases, the energy comes from burning coal or fossil fuels, sources of carbon emissions that are heavy contributors to climate change. In contrast, green crypto practiced by companies like TeraWulf draws power from renewable energy sources that emit little or no carbon.
The confluence of these two forces – the rising popularity of cryptocurrency, and rising concern over climate change – has drawn attention to companies that can help meet demand for crypto while also protecting the planet.
TeraWulf itself has attracted an A-list roster of investors. The list includes celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Mindy Kaling, Sara Foster and Lilly Singh, as well as business leaders like Beautycon Media CEO Moj Mahdara, entrepreneur Kimberly A. Blackwell, FIGS Co-CEO & Co-Founder Trina Spear, and tech company advisor Pegah Ebrahimi.
TeraWulf widened its investor reach on December 14 when it began trading on the Nasdaq following a merger with Ikonics Corp., a Minnesota imaging technology company. The merger, initially announced in June, takes TeraWulf “one step closer” to achieving its mission of generating environmentally sustainable Bitcoin at an industrial scale in the U.S., CEO and Chairman Paul Prager said in a press release.
“We believe that our energy infrastructure expertise and our core focus on ESG set us apart from our competitors and tie directly to our business success,” Prager added.
As for TeraWulf’s stock, which trades under the ticker symbol “WULF”, it has had a sluggish start out of the gate. The stock fell 30% on its opening day of trading to close at $20.30 a share then spent its first-month trading in a tight range of about $15. Part of that is likely tied to the performance of Bitcoin, whose own stock slumped late in 2021 and continued to head south during the first couple weeks of 2022.
Because TeraWulf is a new holding company formed after the merger, the only financials available are from Ikonics. It reported annual revenue of $13.4 million in 2020, down from $17.6 million the previous year. Its 2020 losses narrowed to $439,320 from $813,560 in 2019.
More recently, Ikonics posted about $12 million in revenue during the first three quarters of 2021, up from $9.2 million during the same period in 2020. Quarterly losses widened to $851,000, or 43 cents per diluted share, vs. the prior year’s loss of $274,000 or 14 cents per diluted share.Meanwhile, TeraWulf continues to invest in growth. On Dec. 21 the company spent about $169 million to buy 15,000 computers from Bitmain Technologies. TeraWulf plans to install the machines at a facility it’s building in upstate New York. The facility will plug into an electrical grid that relies on hydropower and is 90% carbon-free.