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I am professional energy journalist, writer and editor who has been chronicling the renewables and fossil fuel energy sectors since 2008.  I am passionate about the energy transition, so much so...

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  • Apr 9, 2021
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Bitcoin’s spiralling energy consumption promises to disrupt upstream energy production in all manner of ways. Some of them could be very positive, yet the energy industry is barely starting to engage with the technology.

If bitcoin achieves its full potential and replaces fiat currencies around the world – the so-called ‘hyperbitcoinisation’ of the economy that bitcoin acolytes eulogise about – then early adopters will essentially replace central banks at the heart of this new digital financial ecosystem.

Energy incumbents are in a privileged position to take a big slice of that market, but short-termism and a lack of vision seem to be standing in the way.

Read more about the fascinating role that bitcoin could play in the energy transition in the latest fortnightly deep-dive from Energy Flux.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 12, 2021

Energy incumbents are in a privileged position to take a big slice of that market, but short-termism and a lack of vision seem to be standing in the way.

Is it fair to call this purely lack of foresight or maybe is it more uncertainty and not being willing to 'bet' on this direction of markets moving without being sure that's where things will end up? 

Seb Kennedy's picture
Seb Kennedy on Apr 12, 2021

You could argue that "uncertainty" and "lack of foresight" are two sides of the same coin: reverse them, and you have "certainty" versus "foresight". These characteristics speak to one enduring quality: conviction. If you act (and invest) with conviction, in a small way you help to create the future you want to see.

Listening to the tech guys trying to lease mobile bitcoin mining rigs to oil companies, their conviction comes across very strongly. And the way they talk about their conversations with oil executives, it seems that a lot of these guys are (understandably) preoccupied with immediate concerns such as: cash flow, short term liabilities, corporate solvency.

That might have changed a bit with the oil price recovery, but there is a culture of short termism among too many listed oil companies. Execs are rewarded for short term wins, even those that are detrimental to long term shareholder value. That's why Wall Street hates the shale patch.

Imagine if there was a wholesale shift in the way these oil guys think, act and invest. Imagine if they had a credible view of what the future might look like, and their role in it. I think this gets to the nub of the issue: they don't have a clue what to do, and are winging it from one day to the next!

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