Bitcoin Mining is Heating the Planet: Greenpeace FUD
The debate over Bitcoin mining and network energy usage rages on, and the latest round of unfounded FUD has come from Greenpeace.
Environmental activist organization Greenpeace lashed out at the crypto industry and Bitcoin network in response to an article published last year.
On Oct. 17, Greenpeace wrote that “Bitcoin mining is driving millions of tons of new global warming pollution in the US.”
Its primary gripe was over the use of waste energy from gas flaring to power Bitcoin mining machines. Greenpeace claimed that burning this gas “does nothing to reduce fossil fuel consumption and is even keeping old gas wells open.”
Baseless Bitcoin mining narratives
In reality, gas flaring happens anyway, so this carbon is going into the atmosphere regardless. Bitcoin miners convert this otherwise wasted energy into a productive process rather than let it go up in smoke.
Furthermore, Greenpeace did not cite any sources for their “millions of tons of pollution” allegation. This might be because it’s not possible to accurately measure the carbon footprint of mining activities.
Market analyst Willy Woo commented:
“Would be nice if you backed up your stance with hard data and science instead of citing a narrative, which honestly is what is the norm these days.”
According to the Cambridge University Electricity Consumption Index, the entire global Bitcoin network currently uses an estimated 106 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. The demand has actually been in decline this year due to the bear market and more efficient mining hardware.
By comparison, this is almost half of the electricity transmission and distribution losses in the U.S. alone, which is an estimated 206 TWh per year. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that these losses equated to around 5% of the electricity distributed in the U.S. from 2016 through 2020.
Furthermore, renewables curtailment in China, which is an abandonment rate for an oversupply of energy that cannot reach the grids, is around 105 TWh per year, according to Cambridge University.
Both of these are completely wasted energy sources. Added together, they consume three times more than the Bitcoin network.
Powering a global monetary system
Back to gas flaring, Cambridge Uni estimates that the global recovery potential for this activity is 688 TW/h. Again, this is completely wasted energy from fossil fuel burning that could power the entire BTC network 6.5 times over.
Comparing Bitcoin’s energy consumption to other industries also highlights how little it actually uses:
Bitcoin’s global energy consumption share is a mere 0.48%. This energy is used to power a decentralized permissionless monetary network. Even more important, Bitcoin has never been hacked and is instantly available to anyone in any country at any time.
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