More On: bitcoin
Is it possible to cherish Bitcoin while also protecting the environment?
So-called miners, whose powerful computers work around the clock to execute transactions, are the backbone of the world's most popular cryptocurrency. Environmentalists, governments, and other large consumers of energy are alarmed about China's explosive growth in energy use. Bitcoin mining has been prohibited in China, and entrepreneur Elon Musk has stated that he would not accept the currency as payment for his Tesla automobiles unless miners use at least 50% sustainable energy. That's going to be difficult, given that many of them are still using power generated from fossil fuels.
1. Is there a lot of power in this situation?
According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, Bitcoin's predicted yearly power usage jumped from 6.6 terawatt-hours at the beginning of 2017 to 138 terawatt-hours in early 2022, which is more than a country like Norway. According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin mining emits 114 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is similar to Belgium's yearly emissions.
2. What's the deal with it requiring so much power?
Tens of thousands of computers are whirring away in warehouses that resemble data centers for the world's largest miners. The computations they make are needed to validate transactions on the network, and their completion unlocks fresh Bitcoins. As the number of miners increases, so does the difficulty of the computations.
Miners were forced to invest in even more powerful equipment and larger server farms in early 2022 because the quantity of processing power required hit a record high. More than what's required to power the world's Christmas lights, Bitcoin enthusiasts argue the cryptocurrency consumes just a tiny fraction of global electricity.
3. Are the miners making any efforts to reduce their carbon footprints?
Yes. Some mines generate electricity using natural gas that would otherwise be "flamed," or burned just to dispose of it. Another option is to use low-carbon nuclear power or solar panels on the roofs of their data centers. The abundance of emissions-free hydro or wind power in regions such as upstate New York, Canada, Iceland, and Norway has attracted a large number of businesses. Self-interest is as big a factor as concern for the environment in this decision, as renewable energy is typically less expensive than other options.
4. So, are Bitcoin's emissions decreasing??
It's difficult to say. The China prohibition in June 2021 robbed Bitcoin miners of the country's clean, copious hydropower and led them on a hunt for any affordable, dependable energy source they could locate. In the United States, some choose to locate near renewable energy sources.
Others arose in Kazakhstan, where fossil fuels still make up the majority of the energy mix. Because no one knows exactly where all the miners are located or what kind of electricity they consume, it's difficult to gauge how this will affect Bitcoin's carbon emissions.
According to research journal Joule in February, Bitcoin's environmental effect has worsened since China's decision, with the amount of renewables used to power the network decreasing from more than 40% in 2020 to roughly 25% in August 2021. Miners' efforts to keep an advantage in processing power are having an adverse effect on the environment, as seen by the mounting mound of obsolete computer equipment they are discarding.
5.In what ways are governments making a difference?
Bitcoin miners are still welcome in some places of the world where renewable power sources are abundant. For example, Texas is attempting to increase the number of demand response generators in order to better match the state's fluctuating wind production. They're viewed as a danger in other regions.
An energy crisis in China prompted the country to limit its electrical supply and reduce industrial output, leading to the Chinese ban. Energy limitations in Kazakhstan forced the country to curtail the production of Bitcoin.
According to Sweden's financial authority, crypto mining "threatens the climate transition that has to happen soon" and should be banned across Europe. There are certain governments who want to use renewable energy to power older industries, such as transportation and manufacturing, that are seeking to reduce their carbon footprints. Big power consumers claim that Bitcoin miners burn up scarce energy resources with no benefit to the country hosting the mining operation in terms of jobs and tax income.
6. Is there any evidence that this has had an impact on the cryptocurrency markets?
Yes. After announcing a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin in February 2021, Tesla Inc. announced that it will begin accepting Bitcoin payments for its products. The digital currency soared as a result of the two moves. It wasn't long before he reversed course, stopping the token's adoption in May of that year, citing environmental concerns. Many other digital currencies were affected by the judgment, which triggered a Bitcoin sell-off.
7. What does this all imply for the future of Bitcoin mean for the future of bitcoin
They argue that the "proof of work" mechanism used to verify transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain, which is currently worth more than a trillion dollars, was never meant to support such an enormously valuable commodity.
Bitcoin's environmental effect has been used by proponents of competing cryptocurrencies as a reason to abandon Bitcoin in favor of a more energy-efficient alternative. In several newer blockchains, such as Solana and Cardano, an alternate technique known as "proof-of-stake" is used. Ethereum, a Bitcoin competitor, is slated to move from "proof-of-work" to "proof-of-stake" in mid-2022, lowering its predicted energy usage by as much as 99 percent.
Bitcoin is still the most popular cryptocurrency in the world, but its energy consumption is expected to rise as its popularity grows. Incentives for miners to continue utilizing older, less efficient devices are provided by an increase in Bitcoin's value.
** Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USA GAG nor its advertisers. The author will not be held responsible for information that is found at the end of links posted on this page.