Ryan MacLeod (Nuclear Bitcoiner) joins me to talk about Bitcoin and Nuclear Energy. We talk: 

  • Is nuclear energy too costly?
  • What are SMRs? Small Modular Reactors
  • Nuclear waste and safety concerns
  • How Nuclear energy crosses over with Bitcoin mining
  • Reduced costs and increased accessibility



Stephan Livera links:

Podcast Transcripts: 

Stephan Livera 00:02:41 

Ryan great to meet you and I’m interested to chat a little about it I know you obviously go by the name Nuclear Bitcoiner so do you want to just tell us a little bit about that and what’s in her name 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:02:54 

I found myself in a niche right where nuclear power and Bitcoin intersect each other because as I started to learn about Bitcoin I thought it would be a really good idea to start mining Bitcoin with nuclear power because it is the most abundance and dense source of power that Humanity’s capable of harnessing thus far and one of our greatest liabilities in the nuclear industry is that sometimes we generate so much power that it becomes a liability because there isn’t enough customers to sell it to then we end up with negative prices curtailment and any number of yeah just negative outcomes and I’m pretty confident that yeah  

Stephan Livera 00:03:32 

I think that’s probably the key point isn’t it yeah that’s it it’s interesting you mentioned that key point that because it overproduces and I guess this is one of those Concepts where I’ve read that just the way the electricity grid works is you can’t overproduce it all has to be matching and I guess that’s the key concept that you’re getting out there and we’ll get into all of this as well but just curious in terms of your professional background are you working in that space or you came from that area or is it an interest of yours can you tell us a little bit about yourself there 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:04:08 

I’ve been working in the nuclear research industry in Canada I work at the Canadian nuclear Laboratories like I’m just a lab tech I sit in a lab and I operate and maintain several chemical  analysis instruments that do an important job for the like the can-do pressure tube surveillance program so it’s just we monitor the corrosion rates in the pressure tubes with the instruments that I have in my laboratory but it also lends well to listening to podcasts while I work because I’m just keeping the machines on and making sure that they’re running and like yeah good 50 of my job I can be listening to a conversation in my ear while making machines go so then yeah I went down the Bitcoin Rabbit Hole early 21 after I had a wallet that I just had forgotten about years ago that had a little bit in it and now that was actually worth a substantial amount so it was very exciting and got me interested in following further down the rabbit hole and I recalled hearing about it discussed back in like yeah the early days when it was Occupy Wall Street stuff and the creature of Jekyll Island was a common book that a lot of the people paying attention to the financial crash were interested in understanding money and how it relates to everything that was going on and yeah I never fully made the plunge and life went on and then I got into it around the same time that I was also starting to pay attention to the developments of small modular reactors and hearing significant momentum gaining just in the nuclear in general in the public Consciousness and how people are starting to feel a little bit more receptive to the idea of nuclear power being a substantial playing a substantial role in the energy transition that we are that most of the world has embarked upon and yeah I think it’s just a much better shot to go with nuclear than it is to go with to put our put a lot of stake on being able to predict and in some cases some people even think that they’ll be able to control the weather so I think that’s a bit of a fantasy and we have to stick with what works and what we know works and we know nuclear works I am not yeah I just want to attach Bitcoin mining into it and just supercharge its capabilities to be able to deploy in scenarios that would not have otherwise been feasible 

Stephan Livera 00:06:26 

Great, and so for most listeners maybe we’re not obviously we’re Layman here and we’re not really deeply having researched how nuclear works so probably what most people are thinking is oh nuclear is really expensive or it’s maybe the regulations are too heavy to justify nuclear in most countries around the world so what would you say to that to that person who’s trying to understand you know how feasible how viable is this with nuclear 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:06:56 

Yes, at the beginning they are very costly because a lot of capital expenses go into them and pretty much when you build a nuclear reactor you have to have everything accounted for how you’re going to pay for your fuel and right down to recycling and decommissioning at the end of life or potentially Life Extensions if that is something that can be done with your reactor type because like right now in Ontario we’re going through a full refurbishment of our Fleet it’s going on schedule it’s on budget and everything is going very well and we expect to have everything back online by the early 30s and now there’s even more interest Can Ontario just announced that we’re going to build a new site of four reactors likely at the Bruce C facility and that came out of nowhere like nobody had any expectation that was even going to happen until it was announced three days ago and we’re building SMRs which are hoping to be able to mass produce them in a smaller a smaller size but scale them by multiples so you’ll be able to reduce the cost of individual reactors by just driving down that marginal construction cost by Yeah by mass producing them essentially on the regulation side that is tricky because like many people are familiar with the NRC and America is very slow moving and difficult to get approvals and construction licenses to build nuclear reactors the reactor and Vogel in Georgia is the first reactor to be complete its construction in many decades in America so that’s a very exciting Milestone that people are starting to Rally around and use that as a momentum point to keep Building forward and yeah like regulations are in the process of being updated to reflect better like the modern Paradigm of these new reactors that we are hoping to build in a much larger amounts and deploy them and Export them basically all over the world it’ll be safer the fuel types will be less there’ll be less risk of it being diverted for proliferation concerns and I also think that if they’re mining Bitcoin with it they’ll have a much stronger incentive to be generating power than be doing anything else with your uranium so we’ll see how that plays out in the game theory of the of the future in this little niche we have here and yeah like it’s tricky because the UAE they also just built a large set of reactors with the collaboration with South Korea so they their regulation aligned up really well with their industry and they got those reactors built like yes they do have like a top-down kind of command and control type economy where they have they’re rolled by the well they’re the what do they call them like the monarchs I guess they’re not yeah I don’t even know what they’re called there the Sikhs or 

Stephan Livera 00:09:54 

Yeah, I mean obviously there’s a lot of yeah I mean to be clear I haven’t done a lot of research into the nuclear power that’s been used here in the UAE funnily enough but I know there actually is some mining happening in the UAE so that’s interesting but I I’d be curious to hear your view around SMRS contrasted with the what I’ve heard is called the generation three reactors or like that bigger style of reactor versus what’s happening now with the SMR so what is an SMR why are they why is that different why should you know if people who don’t really know what that is can you give an overview there 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:10:36 

Yeah sure the SMR is basically just a category of nuclear reactors that are built smaller than 300 megawatts and then they’ve even fall into more subcategories of like the micro reactors that are only going to be a few megawatts output to up to the larger ones I think even the Rolls-Royce one that’s being considered is 400 megawatts and they’re still calling that an SMR because it’s larger than the big traditional like 800 megawatt 1400 megawatt reactors that we’re familiar with that are being built like still actively around the world right now there’s like 2022 projects ongoing that will be expected to be completed at varying stages throughout the 20s that’s mostly happening with China in Russia and then a few are happening elsewhere but the SMRs is a new project that everyone’s kind of embarking on because there’s a race to get at least a few designs to the commercial stage by many different players in the nuclear space the all the countries that actively have nuclear programs to get that market share and so like right now in Canada we are proposing six different there’s 12 altogether but six have gotten to like the second stage of their licensing and they’ve actively chosen locations where they’re going to be built they have a rough timeline of like the first ones late in the 27,28 and then a few more early 30s we’ll start to sprout up and they’ll be built in various places like one of them is going to be the Bella Dune plant in New Brunswick and that’s a large Port there that they have so they’re going to mass produce these in a port they’re going to power the port with these new reactors and then they’re also going to deploy them like throughout the rest of the province and I believe this one’s 120 megawatt reactor and it’s also a new cooling type that is not in like common use that they’re just going to use a like a molten salt type of fuel structure that’s much different than the boiled water reactors that we’re familiar with like this this technology has been proven decades ago but it just never went into commercial development because they chose one type of reactor they got familiar with building one type of reactor and the world got really good at building boiled water reactors and pressure water reactors so that’s why we have them everywhere but now there is a growing need to have a much wider range of applications that nuclear power can apply to Beyond just like one large static generating store station we want to be able to yeah 

Stephan Livera 00:13:10 

Like zooming out on nuclear in general do you have any view on why development seems to have relatively stalled in recent decades that you know going back decades there were so much there was so much more nuclear development nuclear power development is it because of the association with nuclear weapons is it because of let’s say the big obviously publicized disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima is it just you know uncertainty do you have any view on why there’s been a relative stalling there and now it seems the momentum is picking back up 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:13:47 

All of the above and there’s been a very active and vocal anti-nuclear movement that has a lot of money behind them that is basically been a thorn in the industry side since its Inception and there was never really a strong pro-nuclear advocacy movement but before just a few years ago and now there’s groups popping up all over the place that are promoting nuclear like one of the most active and prolific nuclear like Advocates is an influencer on TikTok name Isabel Bomaki and she’s a Brazilian model that just got interested in nuclear power and now she’s done TED talks about it she speaks about it at events all over the place she was at the Nay GN annual conference that I was just at a few weeks ago and it’s fascinating to see that there is a and the youthful enthusiasm that is behind this movement because we’ve been kind of put in this state of fear by this hypothetical apocalypse that may or may not happen if the world reaches a Tipping Point but it’s low probability but it’s being promoted as the dominant narrative and it’s really disrupting a lot of people’s like ability to even consider a positive future and there’s so many kids these days that just have this apocalypse like imprinted into their minds and they don’t see a way through this but now it looks like there’s finally some movements that are getting behind something that they can actually believe will bring about a better future and a more abundant future for all of us and it seems that a lot of them have rallied around nuclear as one of the key Tools in doing that so it’s a very exciting time it’s back in a big way 

Stephan Livera 00:15:37 

Yeah, that’s great to hear and I think it’s an awesome thing and we can even break down what’s going on with SMR a small modular reactors and the decrease in costs as I understand and you tell me right if you obviously you know this more than I do but my understanding is most of the nuclear reactors is in the let’s call them the typical big scale ones they’re almost like one of a kind reactors and what we’re trying to do what the market is trying to do now with SMRs is almost mass produced them and have them Factory produced and have them as a very standardized unit that can be you know we can churn them out we can crank these units out there and put them in different locations and we can bring the costs down and dramatically increase the accessibility is that what you say that’s a fair summary of what’s happening it’s almost like we’re going into the era of you know maybe not tomorrow but soon this kind of mass production is possible of nuclear reactors 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:16:39 

That’s essentially the game plan they want to build as many as they can get as many options on the table they can cover as many applications where we can displace like oil and gas and such like things like Marine Transportation electricity generation heat generation we can displace a lot of that with nuclear power like there’s no realistic way that we’re going to completely displace all of our needs for fossil fuels and hydrocarbons in various ways but then we will also be capable of using them to do things like generating hydrogen and then use that as a base like feedstock chemical to produce like other higher order hydrocarbons and that’s when you get into the idea of synthetic fuels and so that we can we’ll be able to extract these elements the hydrogen carbon dioxide nitrogen from the atmosphere and then be able to create our own like chemicals and fuels to do with what we will and that will ultimately be a net negative on carbon emissions so like that will be a positive advancement instead of using and then but we can get there by using a lot of like we need a lot of the hydrocarbons that we have now to get us to that point like we’re still going to need diesel-powered machines for a long time like we’re not just going to replace everything with electric right away and then just throw away all these perfectly well-functioning machines that could still have many decades worth of value that they can be extracted from them so it’s going to be kind of a really push and pull chicken and egg scenario where as we make some of these new advancements with nuclear then we can start seeing how it’s going to disrupt our needs for like using hydrocarbons in certain industries but like you said like we’re still a good like five years before we start seeing the demonstration first of a Kind units then even then we’re still a good decades away from really reaching that into the kind unit where the costs are really driven down and the expertise are like maximized and we have full Supply chains like from the fuel side from just the construction side just everything aligned perfectly like this is a multi-generational project that’s being undertaken by the nuclear industry and if we want to keep Humanity on the path that we’ve been on and growing and finding new ways to use this available energy to kind of advanced into the stars an What not we yeah we’re going to need all the power we need we can get our hands on and nuclear power is going to be a huge play a huge role in all that 

Stephan Livera 00:19:17 

Yeah, look I think that’s fantastic I obviously I have been quite vocal about my skepticism of the climate hysterics so I don’t necessarily buy their kind of the climate historic premise that oh we all need to like stop our fossil fuels or whatever but at the same time I’m very much pro-nuclear I’d love to see it so I think that would be great to see I just you know I sometimes walk a little bit when I was reading I was seeing some of this Narrative of oh look see we can like reduce the carbon and to me it’s not it’s not 100 clear that that’s a you know that we need that but nevertheless as we said it’s it’s there’s some really great benefits that I can see and I think in a really interesting point that I was seeing in some of the reading is that historically we’ve as an example we’ve seen people compare energy based on this thing known as lcoe levelized cost of electricity or energy I believe and the problem that I’ve seen with that is that it’s like comparing them as though they’re similar Alternatives but the problem with let’s say unreliable is that they’re just they’re intermittent it’s not a good comparison so I’ve seen numbers where for example solar capacity factor is something like 17 wind is like 29 and then nuclear is up here at 90 percent so what do you think about that 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:20:36 

Yeah, it’s definitely complicated and if you speak to any grid managers they hate It makes their job way more difficult managing all of these disparate sources coming in from everywhere they can just disappear at a moment’s notice you have to become a weather predicting wizard like even though like they’re getting better at a lot of that stuff you cannot overcome the fact that these only generate power when it’s available and there’s this whole push it’s like oh we can just we’ll build so much that it generates way more than we need when we don’t need it and we’ll store that in batteries and then those batteries will be available for when we need it but like it’s just adds layers of complexity and then that adds more cost to it and then they don’t have the same life and that we were expecting them to have like a lot of these solar Farms were they were predicting in 20- 25 years and like we’re seeing a lot of them starting to Decay and break down now and then you’ve got the maintenance and the recycling costs and it seems that a lot of the people that are really into wind and solar are very narrowly focused on that period of time where it’s generating electricity for free which is great in many applications so we’ll find a lot of use for wind and Mills and solar panels but not as base load to support an entire complex economy like we need stable reliable power that’s always going to be there and that’s where nuclear comes in like there’s it has its own trade-offs in various ways but like stuff like the waste it’s a very small footprint it’s easy to manage it’s the one of the most well tracked and like audited industrial byproducts that out of any industry that exists like the idea keeps strict accounting on every little bit of uranium and plutonium that is out there in the world and so we know where it is we know where we want to keep it and we know that we can actually recycle a lot of it and that will bring a it’ll Decay the radioactive elements faster if we can continue to process it in new types of nuclear reactors where they can use that as fuel and then basically their byproduct is can sometimes be fuel for another reactor depending on the technology stack that we start to develop with these like the technology and the capability to do it exists it’s been tested it’s been proven it’s just it’s costly to bring it all together if you do not have the demand for it if you don’t have the demand for the power and a lot of uncertainty with when where you’re going to build these things then the whole supply chain behind it just doesn’t come so we’ve been waiting for some signals from like a lot more politicians and Nations saying like yes we want to get into nuclear power and then that prompts the industry to be like okay we have the confidence that we have the support of the the politicians and that and the social license is also important as well and we’re seeing that momentum come around on a lot more just the populations be sportive of nuclear power and yeah it’s starting to come together and we’re starting to put pieces together and there’s so much potential of what we can do and that’s why often I yeah I find myself I’ll start talking about one tangent and then before I know it we’re the three four tangents away from what the actual question was but it’s so exciting and there’s so much going on right now that yeah I can yeah 

Stephan Livera 00:23:52 

As you were saying it seems there have been some improvements around sorry there’s a little bit of a delay here but yeah you were mentioning some of the benefits around the waste management because that’s been a previous bug bear or concern with nuclear that you know there’s some way somewhere that has to be retained somewhere I mean it’s not like we’re running out of space on the earth somewhere but you know hypothetically could you just spell out what was the historical reality and what’s you know today’s reality and what’s the future reality going to be around waste for nuclear waste management 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:24:39 

Historically it was just keep it in a safe place aside shielded sometimes they’ll use they’ll tile holes or large lead flasks that’s typically how it’s been stored on most nuclear sites to date and from pretty much from when they started needing to store it and over time the radionuclides they Decay down and they become real as radioactive and then it’s safer to handle and then you can step down the like levels of security and like safety protocols that are taken to protect and shield from them so just it’s the natural state of radiation just the most harmful ones that are radiating faster and quicker they Decay faster and then become less of a concern after like a few decades so it’s basically it’s just a waiting game and then the other thing we want to do is a lot of it still has available energy in it that isn’t extracted by the conventional reactors that we use so we want to develop more Technologies like the molten salt and fast breeder reactors that can use spent fuel from other reactors as its primary Fuel and just continue to recycle it until you are basically left with inert solids coming out at the back end and then there’s also tritium is something that comes up on the news every once in a while because tritium is what the Fukushima has stored up in those barrels and they need to release it out into the ocean but a lot of concern about it is over exaggerated because tritium exists naturally in water just at very low concentrations it’s the it’s the hydrogen with two neutrons on it so deuterium is as heavy water with one Neutron and then tritium is just the heaviest form of hydrogen and it passes through the body really quickly so if even if it was ingested it just over hydrate yourself and it’ll just flow right through your digestive system and it doesn’t have any negative effects it just doesn’t have time to commit any negative effects in your in the body so that’s one thing that gets over exaggerated when people hear that there’s tritium being released into water supplies and the other fact about tritium is that it’s going to be part of fuel for Fusion reactors so if the tritium is in fact concentrated it’s going to be a valuable commodity for a completely different industry that’s going to provide Great Value to humanity if we can succeed in finally getting like small scale large-scale Fusion operating at a at a commercial that setting so and then the rest of it’s pretty much just like the solid material that is the reactors were made out of they they’ll be put in a safe shielding container and kept at the kept at a disposal site until they Decay enough that they can be safely handled and recycled in a more appropriate manner it’s just people are scared of the concept of radiation so whenever you do hear about radiation nuclear waste there I believed most people’s minds are often triggered to like The Simpsons and because everyone has like that vision of Monty Burns bearing a few barrels of green goop in the neighborhood park and Blinky three-eyed fish and that’s tainted a lot of people’s understanding of the Technologies so it’s and it’s very difficult to dislodge something that isn’t been imprinted so strongly even with good truthful honest like information about the topic many people yeah they’re just they learn something and then they will stick to that as their truth and it’s been very difficult because the industry hasn’t historically advocated well for itself in the past like that’s why it’s exciting to have like a groups of Advocates that are completely disconnected from the industry that are kind of off doing their own independent thing 

Stephan Livera 00:30:13 

Yeah, so basically as you’re saying having nuclear influences for you know for lunch or a better word out there or pro-nuclear influences let’s say who are helping win the battle for hearts and Minds in the Public’s eyes and potentially in some of the politicians eyes as well because like the politics whether we like politicians or not in many countries around the world it has to it has to get through them as well right yeah and I think one other interesting benefit that I’ve seen just from looking at SMRS is this idea that you could have smaller SMRs that are just for a particular Community right it could be like some comparatively small you know quite unquote only five megawatt SMR for a small community as opposed to trying to go for this big massive a big typical pressurized water reactor Style 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:31:12 

Yeah, that’s the game plan for Canada we want to take these little five megawatt reactors and we want to upgrade the entirety of Northern Canada off of diesel this that will solve many like Downstream problems just one the power will be reliable and affordable we won’t have to have narrow Windows where we ship in diesel like it’ll still be valuable and useful up there for operating other Machinery but not for electricity and heat because that will be primarily taken care of by these little nuclear reactors and the cool thing about them is you can build them out in modules so if you want to build 5 megawatts or build 10 megawatts build 40 megawatts and it’ll just all be coupled together in a nice convenient ordered fashion and some of them can actually share infrastructure to varying degrees so you can perfectly match them to the needs of the community but then you’re still going to have a little bit of that overhang especially if it’s in a microgrid scenario where you are not connected to another grid elsewhere that you can just export that electricity to it’s like what Ontario does a lot right now is when we over generate electricity it gets exported to New York Rhode Island a bunch of the other northern states they’ll we in fact pay them to take that electricity because we generate so much that it that having it in our grid disrupts the frequency and can be a liability so it’s part of that Balancing Act and it’s actually one of the one of the reasons cited that they were able to justify shutting down the Indian Point reactor in New York because they were able to they import so much electricity from Ontario and Quebec that they were like oh we can do away with our nuclear reactor and now they’ve seen the carbon Emissions on their Grid in fact do the opposite of what they had been intending to do by building offshore wind and solar panels all over the state so let’s an interesting just you see these knock-on effects when you have power available to distribute to a wider grid but then yeah when we get into microgrid stats where you have to start finding ways to balance all of these things together with your load and your demand there’s a small community that I’m aware of that’s only it’s a few hundred kilowatts like I don’t even think they’re a full megawatt but what they do to balance their grid is they just have a room of space heaters to just flip on and off and that is that is how they control their load and to make sure that they’re always consuming the maximum load but then they can shift it in response to just the local residents changing their consumption patterns base whether it’s intraday patterns or like weekly seasonally like because yeah you get different weather like I’m sure where you are in Dubai like you guys have a lot of cooling that needs to be done but then not as much in the winter season so you have a lot of power that’s available for one season but then it’s not completely needed on the other season so you just you need something to play that role that can be off for one season and on for another season so that’s where I see the Bitcoin miners fitting into this role with nuclear power very well especially on the micro grid still they’ll do well on the bigger grids as we’re seeing a lot of that start to happen with the project that Susquehanna and Pennsylvania where with Talent energy that they’ve built this modest size data center there is even though it’s a huge data center compared to the ones that we’re seeing being built out by Riot like yeah that one’s it’s pretty small in comparison and then I’m hearing rumors that there’s 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:34:39 

Going to be big ones built in Ohio in relation to their nuclear power infrastructure because they’re seeing a lot of these liabilities when you’re generating you have your base load generator and then you have all of your intermittent supplies coming in and they can bid zero into like into the price markets and really be disruptive to your base load generator that’s now it’s like okay well that means that you guys get to generate first everything that you can offload and if there’s oversupply that liability often gets put on to the base load generators so it it can be disruptive to their economics when there’s a lot of different sources that they’re competing with for market share and that’s been one of the major factors for the not justifying building new reactors in a lot of these places because they’re just like well the demand patterns are uncertain because we have all of these other sources coming and going and we’re trying to become more like using a high efficiency appliances and light bulbs and having people’s thermostats be controlled by a central Authority like all these different strategies to balance that out but it’s it was not working in the best favor for nuclear power because we also had other things like natural gas goes up and then it goes down and then you have these periods where it’s like okay it’s not affordable to build the nuclear reactor and then it’s like oh well these other power sources are expensive now so now we should be looking at nuclear reactors and they just they get caught up in these flows and then they also get caught up in the political flows where sometimes especially now when everyone’s on their tribe and if one side likes something and then the other side just de facto has to be opposed to it and that is something also refreshing is in Canada we have both of our leading parties are trying to out pro-nuclear each other so that just it gets a lot of the partisan nonsense out of the way that we’ve been Afflicted with a lot lately because yeah big Bitcoin is one of those touchy subjects still here in Canada because we have the Liberals don’t like it but the conservatives have talked positively of it and so it’s become a dirty word when it whatever it comes up in political discussions and that is one hurdle that we that I’m trying to overcome here in Canada by attaching it to our power infrastructure in a much more effective way and then they’ll have no choice but to see like this is something good this is a good that we can use and it provides Great Value to our Power Systems to our citizens that we’re going to be able to use it as a way to advance our goals with nuclear power and empowering a lot of these communities that have been with expensive and unreliable power for Generations so we have a chance to really turn things around but it’s going to take a lot of work it’s going to take a lot of a lot of human capital A lot of capital and the rate incentives but okay 

Stephan Livera 00:37:40 

Yeah, so as you said it’s getting people bought in and that can be winning hearts and Minds getting people bought into this idea of hey nuclear would be great for us it would help us produce more do more be better make more things etc. and so like you said Canada has I guess the fortunate position of both parties being pro-nuclear so that’s an interesting Dynamic I wasn’t aware of that and so when it comes to bitcoin and nuclear as you were saying part of the argument Pro Bitcoin here is that a Bitcoin miner can come in and be taking up some of that capacity to help make it economical to build that capacity in the first place and then I guess the Bitcoin miner can make an agreement to say I’m gonna come in and take up this much capacity until at which time the grid needs it or this other community they need it is that how you’re pitching or how you would promote this idea or can you explain a little bit about the mechanics there of how does a Bitcoin miner come in to try to collaboratively make that case in line with nuclear 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 38:50 

Yeah, my pitch is that they’re going to play the role of the anchor they’re going to just be that load that just rides at the margin of supply and demand and fills in whatever Gap in inefficiencies they might have whether it’s directly at the generator whether it’s at like a transmission substation where it’s being converted for different distribution pathways there’s opportunities everywhere and it seems like the Bitcoin miners have set their sights on finding every inefficiency that they can throughout the power grids and plug them up with their little Miners and it’s inevitable that that’s going to do infect in some way the power managers themselves to see the value that this technology provides and it’s only a matter of time for like these large generators start Consulting with or hiring this growing number of Bitcoin miners to operate systems for themselves or to just yeah to just consult on the best matches and best strategies to go with like I’m sure if Westinghouse called up someone like Harry Sotakin was asking for his advice on how to perfectly match a Bitcoin mining site to one of their new nuclear builds that’s going to have this sort of local demand like someone like him would jump at the opportunity to just get in there and push these two technologies together in like a way that’s going to work been a mutually beneficial for everybody involved like we know that as Bitcoin starts consuming more power like that just makes it more reliable more secure and then it just creates that self-fulfilling feedback loop where it’s better so then more people are using it then more people want to investigate things like Bitcoin mining and then it makes it more secure and we just keep going around in this Loop where like what I’m hearing about and seeing is being built right now is astounding the level of technology that’s going to be available to us in the not too distant future is going to change a lot of how yeah our relationships with Power Systems our relationships with money and yeah this little niche that I found myself in is a pretty interesting intersection between the two of them where now we’re talking about 

Nuclear Bitcoiner  00:41:07 

These big ideas of deploying basically a nuclear reactor pre-packaged with a Bitcoin mining facility attached to it just as a standard to just perfectly match whatever we expect is going to happen and then we can also use it to de-risk building future generation in the present although we’re not going to have the demand for it we can plan for future demand and even if that future demand doesn’t come like say there’s a hospital project that’s built and then all this power infrastructure is built and dedicated and devoted to this new hospital and then the hospital doesn’t get built well at least we have the miners there acting as that placeholder until something else comes along or they can just sit there and take that extra power and then it spreads it out across more customers so ultimately it makes it cheaper for the ratepayers of that local community because they would have otherwise been on the hook for the full cost of the upgrades to their power infrastructure so it’s and it’s awesome seeing what’s happening in Africa right now with grid list is just starting to build some of their smaller pilot projects on just like really Micro Hydro operations that would not have been able to get funding and financing from like a bank or a money lender because of the uncertainty of being able to recoup that full investment but now the miners just they can provide that level of confidence that we can we can make these things beneficial to the local community and also be profitable because if there’s no incentive for somebody to be making money off of these things often they just don’t get built so then everybody’s left in the dark and so if I yeah I think Bitcoin is that perfect incentive to just build power for the sake of building power wherever it’s needed and wherever we want to and it’s going to get very exciting in the next few years because I think the Susquehanna plant and what UAE is doing is just the beginning of this relationship between nuclear power and Bitcoin mining and I’m all for it and I’ve just yeah I found myself at this very unique Niche that’s getting a lot a lot more attention very quickly from the Bitcoiners and the nuclear people too because at the conference I went to that was a nuclear theme that was the North American Young Generation in nuclear they actually had a presentation by the chief nuclear officer at the Susquehanna plant giving us all a presentation about the Bitcoin mining data center that they just built at their site with Talent energy and it was awesome because anybody that wasn’t paying attention at that conference before like they are now and like everybody from the nuclear industry was represented to some degree there was the president of the local grid from Excel Energy there was Westinghouse gee all of the vendors that are proposing new reactors and the actively operating in some still around the US and the rest of the world and there’s yeah they’re paying attention now and so that’s very exciting right 

Stephan Livera 00:44:15 

And so part of the case then in some cases let’s say it means the Bitcoin miner is saying hey  I’m gonna come and set up a Bitcoin mining set of rigs in you know maybe co-located or somewhere nearby to take that power when you don’t need it and if you do need it then is the Bitcoin miner going to have to make the case to say look I’m just going to turn my rigs off if you need that power and so I’m curious then because maybe that’s one area where people might be unclear of the profitability of that operation for the Bitcoin miner because he now has to turn his rigs off so does that present a problem for the Bitcoin miner or how do they build that into their business case 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:45:00 

That is one of the reasons that a lot of Bitcoin miners are looking into different ancillary services that they can provide to the grid like I suspect a lot of Bitcoin miners have been paying attention to what goes on in Texas turcot grid where they’ve been showing that some of these miners are actually earning more revenue from participating in demand response programs than they are actually mining Bitcoin so that is very interesting and exciting development that I don’t think many people would have anticipated it not that long ago and so they’re providing a service so many of them are contractually obligated to do it that’s part of their power purchase agreement structure that’s when you’re called upon by the grid when the route when it reaches this threshold then you are to curtail your load and it’s a pretty simple operation to program them to do that to respond to various signals whether it’s the price or the good frequency this they’re just computers and in many cases they don’t even need to be fully turned off they can just be underclocked as we’ve been seeing some of the Bitcoin miners have been tinkering around with how underclocking affects their efficiency and in many cases it was showing that the efficiency actually goes up so you can mine with a less efficient Miner when it’s at full capacity but if it’s running at like 20 percent you’re actually going to be for the amount of electricity you’re using mine creating more hashes to contribute to the Bitcoin mining so and then the other thing that some of them are looking into is using their waste heat does as a potentially alternate Profit Stream especially where we’re building them up in Northern Canada like you can use them for any number of operations I’ve been seeing people use them for greenhouses like hot tubs pools just space heaters like the any anything that you need low grade heat for it seems that they’re finding a way to use Bitcoin miners as a go between where you’re going to be using that heat anyways and you’re going to be using either a like a gasoline or propane fueled heater for your Greenhouse but now you can use an electric heater it’s also mining Bitcoin 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:47:04 

On the side and you were going to use that heat anyway so now it’s the Bitcoin is actually just kind of a bonus and that’s how it looks like with a lot of the like the small scale home miners are doing they can mine unprofitably but a lot of them are using them as space heaters or bringing them straight into their HVAC system or yeah or their water heaters so it’s very interesting to see all these different developments that some of them may actually start getting commercialized and standardized in some way or another that I’ll just be a normal thing that you can if all your heating is electrified like most of Quebec uses electric heating because they have a lot of electricity generation with all of their Hydro so it would make sense to instead use heaters that also mine Bitcoin because that’s just a convenient byproduct like I in fact have a broken dryer that the heating element broke on it so I took my s9s and I 3D printed a nice little shroud from crypto cloaks and then I ducted them into the back of my dryer and it’s not as quick as it used to be when it was running at the full capacity of the heating element but with two s9s yeah you can definitely dry your clothes so it’s just finding alternative ways to to profit and that’s going to be the game because there’s going to be get cheap electricity and then what else can you do to beef up your margins on the edges and we’re going to see different strategies and different jurisdictions whether it’s because of climate whether it’s because of politics whether it’s just because of different load profiles like I’m all for all of this experimentation that’s going to happen and it’s very exciting and what will succeed will succeed and flourish and we’ll also be able to test a lot many strategies that we can observe failing so that we can avoid them in the future as we’ve been seeing with some of the miners took on too much debt and got themselves into sketchy territory thinking that the number was going up forever and we were never going to have a bear market and then the miners that had prepared and had in their minds like there’s going to be a bear Market the price is going to go down we should be operating for the worst case scenario and those miners seem to have come out ahead like clean spark is a perfect example of that they built infrastructure they built relationships and then when the time was right they were able to scoop up all of these Asics at fire sale prices so it’s yeah I’m here for I’m here to just watch this game play out and play my small little role in advancing it it’s very fun 

Stephan Livera 00:49:31 

Yeah, and so when it comes to doing Bitcoin mining obviously the very one of the very important factors for a Bitcoin miner is what’s your power costs right because that’s often the defining factor of whether you are profitable or not and so maybe that’s another question that people may have is that is nuclear energy going to be cheap enough and of course, I guess in the optimistic case yeah absolutely it’s one of the cheapest but in maybe until you get to that optimistic case are there scenarios where maybe nuclear costs too much for a Bitcoin miner to get involved in that game 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:50:12 

Yeah, definitely the cost is important but we’re seeing that the nuclear miners are actually getting very low cost electricity that the guys out in Georgia and clean spark they’re saying that they’re paying like three cents for their power purchase contracts the Susquehanna plant is paying only like two cents for their electricity and then that game theory plays out it’s like we’re gonna have a having coming up soon so their minor profits are going to be cut in half so if the price doesn’t go up to match that there’s going to be a lot of miners that are now just unprofitable overnight it’s going to be the opposite of what happened when China went offline and everyone doubled their profits overnight with nothing changing so it’s and then everybody was plugging in everywhere and it was just a wild bad Dash to find any electricity that was stranded that you can just plug into and we saw that it kind of overwhelmed Kazakhstan quite a bit to the point where they left a sour taste in their mouth about how overwhelming it can be when they just flood into your Market but yeah it’s very interesting to see the different strategies and the miners know that this is coming up so they’re all trying to buy to be on that lower half of the margins that when it does happen that they’ll be the ones to get to stay online because we’re going to see a lot of interesting changes in in the hash rate if there’s lots of minors that are mining above that margin and because everyone’s competing over the same share of Bitcoin like it’s gonna get wild out there and I’m looking forward to see how it plays out yeah I’ve only been in here for a short enough time like this is my first full cycle so it’s fascinating to watch and go as deep down the rabbit hole as I have so quickly with many others like yeah it seems like the 2021-22 new class of Bitcoiners if gotten pretty fast tracked like right down the rabbit hole and it’s interesting to be a part of  

Stephan Livera 00:52:05 

Yeah, for sure and it’s an interesting thing to watch as the Cycles play out I’ve got you know episodes from past Cycles let’s say and some you know Bitcoin miners have commented that there’s this funny Dynamic where of course yes the number of new Bitcoins issued or inflict you know created every you know after the halving is halved and so what you get is this Dynamic where the most efficient Bitcoin miner actually cheering that it’s like a weird dynamic because in a way their competition gets kind of wrecked in a way and so then if you’re in the top if you’re in the top percentage of for those miners you actually do really well out of that because your competition might be switching off and you are if you have low enough power and a low enough all-in cost you know for your mining if you’re talking about the operations cost and everything all together you’re actually doing really well at that time and then if the and then I think the best obviously is when there’s like a ball cycle happening which has I guess happened normally a little bit after the halving at least historically I’m not I’m not saying you know everyone Bet Your Life on it happening but if that does happen if you are alive as a Bitcoin miner at that time that’s when you’re really just printing the money and that’s kind of the best time in the cycle for a lot of these miners  

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:53:31 

Yeah, it’s fascinating like I expected a lot of it’s gonna consolidate as we go through these waves and Cycles through the false having Cycles they will consolidate into the miners that have found the lowest electricity we’ll all start rallying around and gathering around cheap electricity creating more incentive to generate cheap electricity and it’s going to create these strange feedback loops that nobody I well like some people might have seen this coming like some of the writings of how like he definitely saw it having a major effect on our Power Systems like all the way back in 2010 so that’s it is fascinating that some people had that Vision to what we are experiencing now today and seeing this play out in a really major emergent way that like nobody I yeah it’s just fun to watch that’s yeah to be a part of 

Stephan Livera 00:54:29 

One other question I’ve got for you in terms of comparing small modular reactors versus let’s say the typical pressurized water reactor like the kind of the typical one that most people might have heard or seen in the movies that kind of thing how are you seeing the developments of those going forward like are you seeing it like most of the energy in the development is going towards SMRS or do you see it like actually both of these pathways are going to grow and we’re going to start seeing more of the big style nuclear reactors in different countries around the world 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:54:59 

Yeah, it looks like both options are on the table like for a minute there it looked like there was more emphasis on SMRs and really getting them started and Off to the Races and there was less attention being paid to building new large reactors but now that there’s been a few successfully finished in the western Nations and that we saw that South Koreans are very effective at building reactors in in other nations like UAE that there’s been a renewed emphasis on building these new reactors like I had mentioned earlier in Ontario there was no expectation that Canada was going to pursue large nuclear at all ever again and lo and behold Ontario is building a five gigawatts of new nuclear capacity at the Bruce site ensuring that it stays the largest single like Generating Station in the world for nuclear power like it’s going to be a huge facility and  nobody was I don’t know I guess the people that were intimately involved with it knew but like even people like Dr. Chris Kiefer who’s an advocate for nuclear power here in Canada that’s done a great job at renewing interest in in the can-do reactors like even he was surprised by this like there was and he obsessively pays attention he’s involved he’s talking to a lot of these politicians and then they announced it and yeah every everybody that he that pays attention was surprised by it so it’s a very refreshing development in the nuclear space to see that that we are again taking large nuclear seriously again because as far as I’m concerned we need everything on the table and one of the challenges is getting investment getting Capital that has a reasonable cost to it because when you have a huge capex the difference between six percent interest on that nine percent interest is billions of dollars like some of these projects the interest alone is two-thirds of their entire Capital expenditures like it’s absurd and that’s one of the things that gets argued about Lots with the wind and solar Advocates because they see it as any Capital that’s being invested in nuclear is capital that’s not being invested in they’re preferred the infrastructure development projects so it gets that seems to be the one places who can Lobby the government and tell a better story to get the support and the financing most effectively and they it seems to be that the one side that has for the last few decades been doing quite well on that front has been losing ground to nuclear and many of them are very upset at this new development and they’re very they’re very vocal about their distaste for nuclear power taking away any of their potential like subsidies and revenue I guess we’re seeing like some of the Scandinavian countries I think Sweden and Norway basically just started announcing that they’re going to reject new build outs of wind and solar infrastructure in favor of building Nuclear So that’s a big win for nuclear but it’s a big loss for everyone advocating for wind and solar everywhere which  

Stephan Livera 00:58:08 

Yeah, it’s a fascinating point you make that around the interest rates because as you know I and many others have been saying funny things happen with interest rates at low levels right because that’s from a from an Austrian economics perspective we can see there’s that’s where Mal investment can happen because they’ve been given this kind of false Market signal it’s like you’re flying a plane but the instrumentation is giving you the wrong signals because interest rates have been artificially pushed low and so certain projects look profitable when in real reality they are not or they would not be profitable because the resource is required to see those projects to fruition are not actually available it’s just they’ve been sent a false signal and so I wonder whether some of that wind and solar the unreliable energy maybe some of that the enthusiasm for that was maybe driven by artificially low interest rates and now that the world is seeing interest rates come back up at least from the US fed Federal Reserve perspective interest rates have been coming back up to you know up in big increases in the last few years so maybe that is going to drive some sense of irration alization and maybe some focus more on what’s actually economically sustainable right not the kind of greeny quote unquote sustainable but actually economically sustainable energy and maybe that includes some case for nuclear because now people are being forced to actually deal with something closer to a real interest rate 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:59:34 

Yeah, it forces people to examine the trade-offs a lot more objectively and to see what is actually the more Superior technology like are you familiar at all with the strong towns concept and it was 

Stephan Livera 00:59:49 

Yeah, I’ve read Chuck Moran’s book I thought it was a really great book and it’s yeah because yeah gone 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 00:59:55 

I see that like what he describes of how the like the urban sprawl and how they just need to keep building in order to like Finance what they built before and then it becomes a cycle and then after like three generations it just starts to collapse in on itself because they’ve got like three cycles of debt that they’re working through I see that playing out in a similar way in like the wind and solar build-outs where it’s just they’re just building for the sake of building and then they have to continue building in order to make to cover like the expenses and maintenance costs of what they’ve already built and then it just gets out of hand and it spirals into nothing’s profitable anymore and they’ve everything spread so thin and they’re the markets are all just out of whack 

Stephan Livera 01:00:33 

Yeah, absolutely and I think from a Bitcoin perspective obviously we are critical of Central Banking Fiat inflation fractional Reserve banking which we view as what’s caused some of this male investment and so we’re bringing it back to normal we’re bringing back reality economic reality is reasserting itself and I think it’ll be interesting to see over time you know as there’s this connection between economic reality and Bitcoin I think it’s all reasserting itself so I think really interesting stuff probably a good spot to finish up here so Ryan if you have any final thoughts or let’s say if there’s one message you wanted listeners to take away from this obviously it’s a Bitcoiner focused audience what’s the one message you wish they would take away 

Nuclear Bitcoiner 01:01:22 

I just want people to have more faith in Humanity’s capability to adapt and to build and to come out of tough situations stronger and better than ever I expect the next few years are going to be rough but if we can come out with our wealth and our sanity intact and our infrastructure intact we’re going to be at playing at a whole new level for Humanity and it’s going to be very exciting and I’m a lot more confident in the future that my children are going to grow up in now more than I have ever been over the last decade or so it’s yeah we’re in freaking some good times after some hard times 

Stephan Livera 01:02:01 

Fantastic well thank you for joining me Ryan listen as you can find Ryan online his Twitter handle is Nuclear Bitcoiner but just with no e in the handle all the links will be in the show notes at stephanlivera.com/491 Ryan thank you for joining me  

Nuclear Bitcoiner 01:02:13 

Thanks for having me Stephan it’s been great talking to you 

Stephan Livera 01:02:15 

So what do you think about Bitcoin and nuclear make sure you let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in the Citadels. 

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