Breaking news suggests big changes on how we view the ecology of Bitcoin


Months ago, there was somewhat of a consensus forming that Bitcoin represented a colossal impact on the world’s carbon footprint.

“The estimated emissions produced by Bitcoin last year alone is 69 million metric tons of CO2,” wrote Andrea Morris in Forbes last year, interviewing some experts who suggested BTC could be the only component that could single-handedly increase the global temperature by 2 degrees, and calling Bitcoin the “nail in the coffin of climate change.” All over the Internet, investigative reports compared the costs of mining Bitcoin as sky-high against the costs of mining precious metals, for instance, copper.

Now, in a report today in Cointelegraph, Marie Huillet goes over some of the adjustments that scientists have been making.

A new report from New Scientist November 20, Huillet reports, challenges the idea that Bitcoin’s energy consumption is as high as previous estimates suggested.

A major part of the discrepancy is the difference between areas like Inner Mongolia, where coal-fired plants are the foundation for Bitcoin mining gear, and the Sichuan province, where a lot of these mining rigs run on hydropower.

Huillet also cites estimates that 74% of Bitcoin mining is now powered by renewable, and there’s the suggestion that in the future, this number is going to get even higher.

If the lion’s share of Bitcoin is indeed mined using green energy, the impact that people have calculated on world climate could be much lower. Experts have found that the building and decommissioning of mining hardware accounts for only 1% of the coin’s carbon footprint, so new advances in green energy grids could mean that Bitcoin mining becomes a pretty sustainable practice.

With that in mind, other reports from earlier this year show how regardless of the energy’s origin, BTC energy demands are still prolific, as in this article quoting PwC experts who describe the high per-transaction energy cost, as well as the cost of implementing proof of work an proof of stake algorithms as currently standardized in BTC mining. Perhaps it will take a more holistic approach to lower Bitcoin’s carbon footprint after all.