The damage that Bitcoin mining causes to the environment remains one of the biggest concerns for the crypto community today. Despite criticisms, the crypto community still considers that Bitcoin mining is a sustainable process, which encourages adopting non-polluting energies.
The price of Bitcoin has grown along with the claims for the environmental damage that the maintenance of the network has caused. The crypto community has argued that the mining of Bitcoin can be a threat to the environment. The high energy consumption of this activity exceeds that of several countries.
In 2017, during Bitcoin’s first big bullish rally, the media noted the immense energy expenditure that maintaining the cryptocurrency’s blockchain required. At the time, the Bitcoin network was consuming 30 terawatts per hour (TW/h), which was higher than in entire Ireland.
Although the figure seemed to be high, it does not compare to the current electricity consumption of Bitcoin. It has climbed to 95.45 TW/h, that is, the cryptocurrency’s blockchain alone emits about 45.34 metric tons of CO2 each year. This compares to the total gas emissions in the city of Hong Kong, one of the most populated urban centers in the world.
The aforementioned does not take into account the electronic waste that Bitcoin mining equipment generates. The replacement of the devices due to the increasing power demand also makes this waste a threat to the environment. This process leads to designing and producing increasingly advanced equipment, thus leaving old mining machines obsolete.
Bitcoin Is a Sustainable Process, Which Encourages Using Green Energy
Although Bitcoin mining has received many criticisms, the crypto community has defended it. They argue that, contrary to the above data, Bitcoin mining is a sustainable process, which promotes the use of renewable energy. According to a study by CoinShares, at least 74.1% of all the mining power of Bitcoin uses renewable energy. In other words, this activity seems to be stimulating the adoption of non-polluting energies, contributing to the good of the environment.
In addition to this, large mining farms claim that they try to resell the mining equipment that is no longer profitable to reduce their environmental footprint. Countries with lower electricity costs, where these devices are still cost-effective, buy them in parts or completely. PwC Blockchain analyst Alex de Vries says that not everyone accepts those explanations as mining is still a threat to the environment.
“Unlike the energy demand of Bitcoin mining machines, which is constant throughout the year, hydropower production depends on the seasons. Consequently, the seasonal variability of hydropower is already over 30 % and may rise further due to climate change,” the expert explained.
The efforts of the crypto community to make Bitcoin mining less harmful to the environment do not seem to be enough. The maintenance of the Bitcoin Blockchain has an impact on the world’s current climate crisis, which will continue in the medium term. For that reason, the search for alternatives to reduce this situation has become one of the main tasks of cryptocurrency miners.
By Alexander Salazar