A Greener Bitcoin Future

Despite all of bitcoin’s advantages, it’s evident that the currency can be a nightmare for the environment. According to Cambridge University, bitcoin’s global network consumes between 8 and 15 gigawatts of continuous power, depending on its price (a higher price attracts more miners). New York City consumes only 6 gigawatts of electricity, and Belgium consumes 10. The amount of carbon produced into the environment by bitcoin mining is entirely dependent on the energy source employed.

 

As the price of Bitcoin climbs, so does the amount of energy needed by its global network, as more “miners” join in to
solve mathematical problems with their high-powered computers.

 

“It’s the same situation as gold and gold mining. The marginal cost of gold mining tends to stay near the price of gold. Gold mining is a waste, but that waste is far less than the utility of having gold available as a medium of exchange. I think the case will be the same for bitcoin. The utility of the exchanges made possible by bitcoin will far exceed
the cost of electricity used”, said Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin.

 

But, fortunately, the grass is a lot greener on our side.

 

China, Indonesia and Iran’s restrictions for bitcoin mining have opened a huge opportunity for local producers. According to the University of Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, the United States has expanded from a 4% share two years ago to the world’s second-largest miner, accounting for 17% of all new bitcoins.

 

In May, once Beijing decided to remove its miners, more than half of the hashrate – the total computing power of all miners on the planet – disappeared off the network. A lot of these were older and more inefficient gears that were a big part of the problem overall.

 

The United States has quickly emerged as the next global crypto mining center.
The country has risen from fifth to second place in the last six months, accounting for approximately 17% of all global bitcoin miners.

 

Carbon emissions are not the same as energy usage. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, emitting more carbon dioxide when burned than oil and gas, and it was the main source of energy for Chinese miners. In the United States, miners can spout a renewable energy growth by helping utilities generate the capital needed to upgrade the grid so it can
handle more intermittent sources of energy like solar power.

 

The free market seems to be coming to the rescue as well, with 16 gigawatts of new wind and solar projects expected to be built in west Texas within just next year.

 

Due to the positive impact it can provide to society, bitcoin mining should include clean energy and waste energy streams so that its progress is not unnecessarily stopped. This is all the more important as it is possible with effort to extract bitcoin from clean energy sources and relying on waste energy streams. But to facilitate the move towards
more climate-friendly bitcoin mining, more people need to appreciate why bitcoin is the future.

 

Clean Energy Sources already being used in the US:

 

 

Renewable energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the United States, increasing 100 percent from 2000 to 2018. Renewables made up more than 17 percent of net U.S. electricity generation in 2018, with the bulk coming from hydropower (7.0 percent) and wind power (6.6 percent).

 

Wind energy, or electricity generated by wind-powered turbines, is almost exclusively consumed in the electric power sector. Wind energy accounted for about 26% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020.

 

Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as a fuel to generate electricity, produce heat, and manufacture goods.

 

Solar energy accounted for about 11% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells,
including rooftop panels, and
solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings use solar heating systems to heat water and the building. Overall, 2020 U.S. solar consumption increased 22% from 2019.

 

The United States should encourage the location of large bitcoin mining operations alongside large energy opportunities. Bitcoin miners can be located anywhere and are perfectly equipped to harness unused energy resources, supply waste energy, collocate and purchase operating reserves from power plants, to name a few.

 

Help is on the way

The crypto community is one like no other. Among its members there are many brilliant, concerned and active minds that are coming up with not one, but many alternatives to ensure crypto’s bright future is also an eco friendly
one:

 

The Crypto Climate Accord

Inspired by the international Paris Climate Agreement, the Crypto Climate Accord is focused on decarbonizing the
cryptocurrency industry in record time.

 

More than 150 companies and individuals spanning the crypto and finance, technology, NGO, and energy and climate sectors have joined the Crypto Climate Accord as Supporters. The CCA will deliver the crypto industry an open
source toolbox of tech solutions to decarbonize and prove progress.

 

CCA  is led by three nonprofit groups: the Rocky Mountain Institute, a sustainability non-profit; the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, which advocates for a fair financial system; and Energy Web Foundation, which focuses on open-source technologies to accelerate the low-carbon transition.

 

It seems that a promise of a better future is almost at hand, and a big part of the solution comes from the individual responsibility of consumers and investors who vote with their wallets for companies that are responsible citizens.

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