Since bitcoin first emerged on the scene, many have argued that the process of mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has caused the environment a lot of trouble. Many claim that the mining process requires far too much electricity, and that the energy being wasted on such frivolous operations is contributing to climate change and other environmental hazards.
Does Bitcoin Mining Use a Lot of Energy? Well, It’s Complicated…
In the past, many studies have been produced on this. It is often said that the country of Iceland requires more energy to mine bitcoin than it does to power its many homes, while other studies suggest that bitcoin mining emits as much carbon – possibly more – as the entire city of Las Vegas, Nevada.
However, some have argued that these studies are being blown out of proportion. They say that bitcoin mining doesn’t require any more electricity than any other standard item, and that the process energy usage is nowhere near as bad as some say. So, the question is which argument is true? Is bitcoin mining harming the environment due to energy overuse, or are all these claims being blown out of proportion?
Well, it turns out that this is a two-sided equation of sorts. A new study suggests that while crypto mining does, indeed, require heavy amounts of energy, many are utilizing energy from renewable sources, which is helping to get the environment back on its feet. A report issued by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance (CCAF) claims the following:
Approximately 76 percent of hashers use renewable energy to power their activities, with hydropower the number one source at 62 percent. Wind and solar energy, meanwhile, are used by 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
At first glance, this looks like good news. Most miners appear to be on the responsible side and are doing their part to conserve energy and help the planet. However, the 76 percent figure isn’t entirely representative of who is committing to the use of renewables. The report goes on to state:
The 76 percent figure refers to the share of hashers who use renewable energy at any point. It is estimated that only 39 percent of hashing’s total energy consumption comes from renewables.
We Want the Energy, but It’s Not There
In other words, while there are certainly several miners out there seeking to utilize renewable energy for their operations, the amount of renewable energy available for these projects is limited. Thus, it doesn’t matter how conscious miners are of the environment. The fact is that the energy they need is not being provided to them.
One of the big problems stems from Southeast Asia, where much of today’s bitcoin and crypto mining operations are centered. These operations and others are still very reliant on cheap coal sources, which does the job, but ultimately contributes to a higher carbon footprint.