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Photo - Does mining negatively impact the environment?

Does mining negatively impact the environment?

Bitcoin mining is a deeply energy-intensive process and it consumes a lot of electricity, which is why mining is considered to be non-eco-friendly. But is it really that bad?

Views: 807

Author: Artem Khomenko

Date: 24 September 2022

Category: Opinion

The data  from 2021 on global Bitcoin mining released by the Cambridge Centre revealed shocking statistics: mining consumes 122 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year. This is above Argentina, which is at 121 TWh, the Netherlands (108.8 TWh) and the United Arab Emirates (113.2 TWh). Its annual electricity consumption is roughly on par with Norway's energy consumption (122.2 TWh)  and a hundred times bigger than Slovenia's (1.08 TWh). 

The graph represents energy consumption by country and by BTC mining ( Source: BBC)

The graph represents energy consumption by country and by BTC mining ( Source: BBC)

Bitcoin mining is estimated to generate 7.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year and it’s approximately the same level of emissions from 2 million cars per year.

However, this type of analysis is rather controversial. Why? There are many different businesses and processes in the world that consume a large amount of energy. For instance, according to the analytical resource Messari, drying socks with a hair dryer consumes more energy than mining cryptocurrencies.

The graph represents carbon emissions of Bitcoin compared to other industries (Source: Messari)

The graph represents carbon emissions of Bitcoin compared to other industries (Source: Messari)

The mining farm itself is not a major source of pollution. Total amount of Carbon dioxide (CO2) that enters the atmosphere generated by thermal power plants refers to atmospheric emissions. The lack of renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal power plants creates a problem.

There are some cases where mining even helps to reduce emissions. Daniel Batten released a report with the following data: 2.36% of BTC miners use natural gas, that in any case would be used by the oil and gas industries. Bitcoin miners reduce CO2 emissions by 63%  while burning off gas instead of just emitting it as methane into the atmosphere. This process reduces the carbon intensity of the network by 4.02%.

Messari also concluded that sustainable energy usage for BTC mining is  60%. This means that mining is energy neutral and is not a dangerous source of carbon emissions.

The graph represents sustainability of the BTC Mining Structure (Source: Messari)

The graph represents sustainability of the BTC Mining Structure (Source: Messari)

Thus, the impact of mining operations on the environment is not that bad. It is not that harmful as other industries despite the fact of  high energy consumption. And switching to green energy will completely solve the issue of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. That time mining can completely offset its harm to the environment.

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