UN Research Links Bitcoin Price Surge to Soaring Energy Consumption: A Look at the Environmental Impact
UN links Bitcoin's rising price to a hike in energy consumption during 2020-2021.
Mon, 30 Oct 2023, 16:06 pm UTC
Researchers from the United Nations have recently established connections between the surging price of Bitcoin and the escalating electricity consumption resulting from its mining operations.
Through an in-depth analysis of 76 countries engaged in Bitcoin mining from 2020 to 2021, the UN research revealed that the global Bitcoin mining network's energy consumption reached a staggering 173.41 terawatt-hours. As Bitcoin experienced a significant price surge during this period, reaching a record peak of $69,000, the study highlighted an intriguing observation. Specifically, with Bitcoin's price increasing by 400% from 2021 to 2022, the global energy consumption for mining surged by 139%.
A substantial 66% of this energy was derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. However, as the cryptocurrency industry increasingly embraces sustainability, the study indicates that crypto businesses are progressively shifting towards renewable energy sources. The study notes that hydropower accounted for 16% of Bitcoin mining's electricity requirements, with nuclear energy covering 9%, and solar and wind energies contributing 2% and 5%, respectively.
Nevertheless, the study faced some contention. Critics within the cryptocurrency community pointed out that the UN study relied on data from a 2018 paper by Mora and others. Critics argued that this paper had inaccurately inflated Bitcoin's carbon emissions by including energy-consuming but non-profitable mining rigs. Notable critic Nic Carter raised concerns about the study referencing what he termed as "unverified academic content from the Mora 2018 research."
The UN study also underscored the significant impact of leading Bitcoin mining nations. China, the United States, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Malaysia, and Singapore collectively accounted for a substantial 92% to 94% of Bitcoin's global environmental footprint, spanning carbon emissions, water use, and land utilization.
As nations worldwide advocate for more sustainable energy solutions, this trend could potentially reduce the environmental impact of Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
In recent developments, Genesis Digital Assets Limited, a prominent global mining and data center entity, inaugurated a new facility in Sweden. This new center, which houses 1,900 Bitcoin mining devices, capitalizes on Sweden's growing cache of renewable energy.
Christian Anders, a renowned figure in the crypto world and the brain behind BT.CX, mentioned that while Bitcoin mining incurs high energy costs, countries like Sweden, Finland, and Norway have an abundance of renewable energy, notably hydropower. He elaborated on how these nations sometimes experience negative energy prices due to their surplus, particularly in remote areas where distributing this energy is a challenge.
Simultaneously, manufacturers of Bitcoin mining hardware are consistently producing more energy-efficient models. At the World Digital Mining Summit on September 22, miners discussed strategies to make the crypto space more environmentally friendly.
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