Over the past few decades, consumers have become more curious about their energy consumption and personal effects on climate change. When news stories started swirling regarding the possible negative effects of Bitcoin’s energy consumption, many became concerned about Bitcoin and criticized this energy usage.
What Is Bitcoin (BTC)?
Who Are the Founders of Bitcoin?
What Makes Bitcoin Unique?
How Much Bitcoin Is in Circulation?
How Is the Bitcoin Network Secured?
Bitcoin Energy Consumption
What Is Bitcoin’s Role as a Store of Value?
How Is Bitcoin’s Technology Upgraded?
What Is Taproot?
What Is the Lightning Network?
How Much Is Bitcoin?
Is Bitcoin Political?
Where Can You Buy Bitcoin (BTC)?
What is Mining?
Over the past few decades, consumers have become more curious about their energy consumption and personal effects on climate change. When news stories started swirling regarding the possible negative effects of Bitcoin’s energy consumption, many became concerned about Bitcoin and criticized this energy usage. A report found that each Bitcoin transaction takes 1,173 KW hours of electricity, which can “power the typical American home for six weeks.” Another report calculates that the energy required by Bitcoin annually is more than the annual hourly energy usage of Finland, a country with a population of 5.5 million.
The news has produced commentary from tech entrepreneurs to environmental activists to political leaders alike. In May 2021, Tesla CEO Elon Musk even stated that Tesla would no longer accept the cryptocurrency as payment, due to his concern regarding its environmental footprint. Though many of these individuals have condemned this issue and move on, some have prompted solutions: how do we make Bitcoin more energy efficient? Others have simply taken the defensive position, stating that the Bitcoin energy problem may be exaggerated.
At present, miners are heavily reliant on renewable energy sources, with estimates suggesting that Bitcoin’s use of renewable energy may span anywhere from 40-75%. However, to this point, critics claim that increasing Bitcoin’s renewable energy usage will take away from solar sources powering other sectors and industries like hospitals, factories or homes. The Bitcoin mining community also attests that the expansion of mining can help lead to the construction of new solar and wind farms in the future.
Furthermore, some who defend Bitcoin argue that the gold and banking sector — individually — consume twice the amount of energy as Bitcoin, making the criticism of Bitcoin’s energy consumption a nonstarter. Moreover, the energy consumption of Bitcoin can easily be tracked and traced, which the same cannot be said of the other two sectors. Those who defend Bitcoin also note that the complex validation process creates a more secure transaction system, which justifies the energy usage.
Another point that Bitcoin proponents make is that the energy usage required by Bitcoin is all-inclusive such that it encompasess the process of creating, securing, using and transporting Bitcoin. Whereas with other financial sectors, this is not the case. For example, when calculating the carbon footprint of a payment processing system like Visa, they fail to calculate the energy required to print money or power ATMs, or smartphones, bank branches, security vehicles, among other components in the payment processing and banking supply chain.
What exactly are governments and nonprofits doing to reduce Bitcoin energy consumption? Earlier this year in the U.S., a congressional hearing was held on the topic where politicians and tech figures discussed the future of crypto mining in the U.S, specifically highlighting their concerns regarding fossil fuel consumption. Leaders also discussed the current debate surrounding the coal-to-crypto trend, particularly regarding the number of coal plants in New York and Pennsylvania that are in the process of being repurposed into mining farms.
Aside from congressional hearings, there are private sector crypto initiatives
dedicated to solving environmental issues such as the Crypto Climate Accord
and Bitcoin Mining Council. In fact, the Crypto Climate Accord proposes a plan to
eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, And, due to the innovative
potential of Bitcoin, it is reasonable to believe that such grand plans may be achieved.