Bitcoin & CO₂

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In 2021 Bitcoin mining and trading will probably consume more than 1 % of global electricity supply.

Unfortunately, more than 60 % of the computational power required to maintain the Bitcoin network is dependent on fossil fuels.

Hal Finney’s question from 2009 was indeed prescient, as today the Bitcoin network requires 75 TWh of electricity annually in order to function. That is more electricity than Switzerland consumes in a year.

According to real-time geo-tagged Bitcoin mining data collected by the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), we can see that more than seventy per cent of the total computational power, known as global hash rate, required to maintain the Bitcoin network comes from miners based in China and Kazakhstan. In the case of China it is the provinces of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia which provide the majority of Chinese hash rate during the long dry season. In those two provinces more than 85 % of all energy supply is derived from coal-powered plants.

In mid 2019 Kazakh based miners accounted for less than a quarter of a percent of global hash rate. As of the beginning of 2021, however, it is estimated that close to 10 % of all Bitcoin mining activity originates from Kazakhstan. That is very bad news for the environment because 70 % of Kazakh power plants run on coal.

If you would like to learn more about the carbon footprint of Bitcoin we recommend excellent studies by by data scientists and economists such as Christian Stoll and Alex de Vries.

For real-time data on single transaction footprints and annualized total footprints visit the Digiconomist Energy Consumption Index.