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Bitcoin mining giant pushes into Europe as rivals build out in US

Marathon Digital is expanding its geographic reach by venturing into Europe, marking a significant step in its global diversification strategy.

This move contrasts with some North American competitors who remain more focused on domestic projects.

After energizing a two-megawatt datacenter in Finland’s Satakunta region, Marathon seeks to help heat a town there of 11,000 people. 

The process Marathon is testing is known as district heating, which involves heating water in a central location before distributing it via underground pipes. Such systems aim to decarbonize heating in urban areas especially, Marathon said.   

“We believe that this kind of innovation can drive the advancement of the digital asset compute industry and further strengthen Marathon ‘s leading position in the field,” CEO Fred Thiel said in a statement.

The project comes after Marathon revealed a pilot project in Utah in November — powered exclusively by landfill methane gas. That test demonstrated “it is both economically viable and environmentally beneficial to use landfill gas for digital asset compute.”

Marathon will look for more innovative ways to use its datacenters to help promote sustainability, it said in a Thursday news release. Swick told Blockworks in April that solving energy problems — rather than just consuming energy — is a key way to stay competitive in the mining industry over the long term.   

Read more: Miner Marathon poised to acquire, expand after Bitcoin halving, exec says

Another part of the mining giant’s strategy has been geographic diversity. That was one way to reduce costs, Marathon executives said, before (and now after) the latest Bitcoin halving in April, which reduced per-block mining rewards from 6.25 BTC to 3.125 BTC. 

Based in Florida, Marathon’s North America operations include sites in Texas, Nebraska and North Dakota. 

The company last year expanded into the United Arab Emirates through a joint venture with FS Innovation. It later said, in November, that it was building a new 27-MW project in Paraguay powered by hydro energy. 

After revealing to Blockworks in February that the company was “looking at Africa” as a place to prove that bitcoin mining can be a solution for the energy sector, Marathon partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum last month to support the country’s energy growth. 

Meanwhile, some of Marathon’s biggest competitors are focused more on US expansion. Las Vegas-based CleanSpark said Tuesday it was set to soon close on five more bitcoin mining facilities in Georgia that it was buying for nearly $26 million.

Core Scientific is focused on building out its infrastructure across its US facilities to support high-performance computing (HPC) after signing a deal with cloud provider CoreWeave . Colorado-based Riot Platforms — operating mainly in Texas — has expressed interest in buying Toronto-based Bitfarms, which had declined its takeover bid . Bitfarms said last week it was set to develop up to 120 MW of power capacity and lease a site in Pennsylvania. 

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