Now it is a bold statement to stay that something like Bitcoin is causing Global Warming BUT it is!
A good quality bitcoin miner like the Antminer S17 Pro uses around 2.5KWh of electricity every hour when mining Bitcoin. Over a year this miner will mine around 0.5 bitcoins and use around 22,000kWh of electricity. SO to get 1 bitcoin today (which is more complicated than when bitcoin first appeared) a bitcoin mining operation would need to use 2 Antminers and thus use 44,000 kWh of electricity. This ratio of electricity use will only get worse as the process of mining bitcoin gets more complex and the hash rates need to increase.
The cost of electricity accounts for around 90% of the mining process and so the one thing that mining operations look out for is cheap electricity. YES some have setup in Iceland where they can access geothermal generated electricity and hydro in Sweden but most bitcoin is mined in China (60%) and the reason for this is that electricity there is cheap due to the fact that it is mostly generated using coal.
Now the issue with bitcoin mining, in respect to the environment, isn’t just that the process using a large amount of electricity to mine. No that is only one part of the equation. The other part is that bitcoin mining when using electricity also produces a huge amount of heat. Yes for every 1 kWh of electricity used in mining you generate 1 kWh of heat.
Now it is estimated that the total electricity use for mining bitcoin today is 30 TWh. This means that bitcoin mining is generating around 15m tonnes of CO2 every year, 3.75m tonnes of air borne water vapour as well as pushing 30 TWh of heat into the atmosphere every year (not including flue gas heat).
This does not take into account the metal mined to produce the bitcoin miners nor the energy used to manufacture the graphic boards need to create the bitcoin miners.
Basically all of this means that mining bitcoin is contributing to Global Warming and so it is fair to say that bitcoin mining is causing Global Warming.
Now this sounds bad but the real worry is that if bitcoin mining incorporates AI learning, which it will at some point, then the energy use for bitcoin mining will increase substantially. Also if cryptocurrency becomes main stream as a replacement for conventional money transactions then our electricity use and emissions from this process could more than treble.
Bitcoin mining and the use of bitcoin could be a real environmental problem in the years to come.
Here’s hoping we all go back to using paper money. At least that stuff can be recycled (or burnt is times become desperate).