With inflation hitting multi-decade highs and concerns growing over fiat currency devaluation, Bitcoin's appeal has surged in 2023 as an alternative store of value and hedge against rising prices. However, mining Bitcoin sustainably and efficiently remains challenging amid regulatory crackdowns on fossil fuel-powered operations.
As policymakers and investors increasingly scrutinize the environmental impact of crypto mining, TeraWulf (WULF) is working to position itself as a leader in sustainable bitcoin mining practices. The company operates bitcoin mining facilities powered by hydro and nuclear energy, which emit zero carbon.
TeraWulf claims to be the first publicly traded Bitcoin mining company with a stated goal of achieving 100% carbon-free mining operations. This gives the company a key competitive advantage as climate change concerns mount globally. By securing long-term partnerships with nuclear power producers and siting its facilities in locations where there is an abundant supply of low-cost, zero-carbon energy sources, TeraWulf aims to mine bitcoin while profitably meeting ESG goals for low emissions.
The big picture
The total crypto market cap now stands at $1.15 trillion, up from below $900 billion in January 2023. After hitting a low of $15,600 in November 2022,Bitcoin has rebounded over 30% to current levels of around $23,000 this year. This recovery comes amid high inflation worldwide, leading to growing institutional investment in cryptocurrencies as alternative stores of value.
The renewed momentum in bitcoin and crypto markets is driven by several macroeconomic trends that benefit Bitcoin as a store of value. High inflation worldwide has spotlighted Bitcoin's potential hedge against rising prices. For example, the latest US inflation data showed prices climbed 6.4% in January compared to a year ago, remaining stubbornly high and eroding purchasing power. This has led more institutional investors to adopt Bitcoin as a defense against inflation and as an alternative asset class.
At the same time, unprecedented money printing by central banks during the pandemic has raised concerns about fiat currency debasement. With over $9 trillion in stimulus pumped into the global economy, investors increasingly turn to provably scarce assets like Bitcoin as long-term stores of value.
Terawulf’s sustainable business model
While the growth in crypto presents opportunities, mining bitcoin sustainably remains vital for profitable operations. TeraWulf differentiates itself through its access to carbon-free nuclear and hydropower, which provides reliable, low-cost electricity.
TeraWulf can run mining operations more efficiently than competitors by securing long-term, low-cost, and reliable carbon-free energy sources. "We are committed to achieving 100% zero-carbon bitcoin mining, allowing us to meet emerging ESG standards," Prager explained. TeraWulf's mining sites are located in Pennsylvania, where it sources fixed-price nuclear power, and upstate New York, where the company sources 91% zero-carbon grid power, primarily hydro produced from the Niagara Hydroelectric power station.
Looking ahead, TeraWulf plans to expand its mining capacity significantly. The company is currently operating 160 MW and 5.5 EH/s of mining capacity and recently announced plans to expand to more than 200 MW and 7.9 EH/s by year-end. TeraWulf is uniquely and strategically positioned to meet the growing demand for sustainably mined bitcoin.
Positioned at the intersection of the crypto resurgence and the climate-driven transformation of bitcoin mining, TeraWulf represents an intriguing investment opportunity. The company's clean energy approach aligns it with the future of ESG-focused Bitcoin mining. At the same time, its leverage on Bitcoin prices remains strong during this recovery phase in the crypto cycle.
TeraWulf's low-cost mining operations allow it to generate bitcoin at a production cost significantly below its competitors, which is critically important as we approach the next halving. In the first half of 2023, the company mined nearly 1,500 bitcoins, generating a self-mining revenue equivalent of $37.6 million. With its total hashrate capacity expected to reach 7.9 EH/s by year-end 2023, TeraWulf is poised to grow its bitcoin production significantly.
"By running highly efficient mining machines using low-cost zero-carbon power, we can produce new bitcoins at an industry-leading average cost of power of approximately 3.5 cents across our portfolio," said Paul Prager, co-founder and CEO of TeraWulf.
TeraWulf has invested heavily in its mining equipment and infrastructure, resulting in losses in recent quarters. However, the investments are expected to generate strong returns as additional mining capacity comes online. And as Bitcoin gains mainstream adoption, TeraWulf's role in providing sustainably generated Bitcoin will become increasingly important. With solid growth in the Bitcoin mining market expected in the coming years, TeraWulf's zero-carbon approach could give it an edge.
While TeraWulf is well-positioned to capitalize on Bitcoin's momentum, the company also faces risks that investors should consider.
As a cryptocurrency miner, TeraWulf operates in a complex regulatory environment. New restrictions on Bitcoin mining could significantly impact its business model. For example, New York instituted a moratorium on new Bitcoin mining licenses in 2022 amid power shortage concerns.
However, TeraWulf aims to mitigate regulatory risk by being a sustainability leader. "We're committed to 100% carbon-free mining, which aligns with policymakers' environmental priorities," said CEO Paul Prager. This ESG focus helps insulate TeraWulf from potential bans on fossil fuel-powered mining.
Bitcoin price volatility
Bitcoin's price is prone to wild swings as an essentially speculative asset. A significant price drop could hurt TeraWulf's profitability. "If the price of Bitcoin falls significantly, margins for Bitcoin miners would shrink significantly," noted Prager. “However, as the lowest cost producer, TeraWulf maintains profitability even in low Bitcoin price environments,” added Prager. The company stock also carries price risk, with shares down over 60% in 2022, partially due to Bitcoin's plunge.
TeraWulf maintains extremely low power costs to manage its Bitcoin price exposure. Based on its long-term, contractual access to low-cost hydro and nuclear power, the company can mine profitably even if Bitcoin approaches $20,000 per coin.
Expanding TeraWulf's mining capacity to 7.9 EH/s and beyond entails execution risks. Construction delays or cost overruns could impact the company's growth timeline and profitability.
Careful project and construction management will be essential as TeraWulf expands beyond its 5.5 EH/s of operating capacity today. "We are energy infrastructure experts and rely on our team of experienced engineers and operators to ensure we achieve our deployment targets on time and budget," Prager noted. Keeping its expansion plans on schedule will help maximize TeraWulf's Bitcoin production capacity ahead of the next halving, estimated to occur in April 2024.
With Bitcoin adoption snowballing, the demand for mining infrastructure is expected to rise. TeraWulf offers exposure to the digital asset boom while mitigating environmental and regulatory risks.
TeraWulf's access to carbon-free power sources gives it a competitive edge as climate change concerns mount. The company's growth plans could establish it as a significant player in Bitcoin mining in the years ahead. TeraWulf exposes the expanding Bitcoin space for environmentally-conscious investors with promising ESG credentials.
As Bitcoin gains momentum amid economic uncertainty, TeraWulf's sustainable approach differentiates it from other publicly traded Bitcoin miners reliant on fossil fuels. The company's commitment to zero emissions aligns it with environmentally conscious investors and policymakers.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.