Does Bitcoin Mining Cause Global Warming? Here is What the Experts Think
The Bitcoin network is based on a public ledger. To confirm transactions and keep the ledger secure, a huge amount of energy is needed. Consequently, some experts claim that Bitcoin mining contributes to global warming. The reason for this is that some of the massive amounts of energy needed to confirm a BTC transaction come from coal plants. However, other experts note that over 50% of the energy use to confirm BTC transactions is sourced from clean energy. These experts expect the amount of clean energy used in the BTC network to go up.
Understanding BTC Mining
The primary goal of BTC mining is to eliminate double-spending from the network. Individuals that verify these transactions are called miners. To confirm a transaction, one has to use complex equipment to solve a complex computational problem. Once they confirm a block of transactions, they receive a reward.
One block can contain just one transaction or a series of thousands of transactions. Before 2013, BTC mining used to be done with an ordinary CPU or GPU. However, that was before the dawn of ASICs.
Why BTC Mining Uses Up So Much Power
ASICs are powerful processors, which are designed for BTC mining. They make computations faster than a normal CPU and thus consume more power. As more miners enter the sector, the difficulty has been rising, which requires more energy to confirm a transaction.
When they consume more power, they make it more expensive to mine BTC. Miners that wish to remain profitable have to reduce the cost of electricity. Consequently, they opt for low-cost electricity.
How Does Mining Contribute to Global Warming?
Bitcoin miners are always on the hunt for low-cost power. The result is that some mining firms use coal-power to reduce the cost of electricity. While these plants offer access to low-cost power, they have a huge environmental impact. These plants produce greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. Consequently, some experts claim that BTC mining is a major contributor to global warming.
However, there are ways to reduce these effects. They are:
- Use green energy sources
- Improving computing power while cutting back on the energy consumed
Using Green Energy Sources
Using green energy sources to mine BTC could help to reduce the impact of BTC mining on global warming. One of the green energy sources used to mine BTC is hydropower, which is abundant in China. It is also quite low-cost. However, these energy sources are only available in certain regions of the world.
Improving the Efficiency of Mining Equipment
Another method to reduce energy consumption is to improve the efficiency of ASICs. Experts are already working on the issue. They are creating devices that mine BTC efficiently while consuming less power. However, there is no timeline on when such devices will become a reality.
While BTC does have some impact on the environment, its effects can be mitigated. Thus far, using green energy sources such as hydropower is the best solution today. It ensures that over half of all BTC mining is done sustainably. For other miners, the solution for more efficient ASICs is still in the works.