Concerns about the impact of proof of work (POW) and bitcoin (BTC) mining on the environment are growing. As interest in cryptocurrencies expands, there is an increase in energy consumption.
The energy consumption of the Bitcoin network made waves at the end of 2017. Even mainstream news outlets were reporting that it uses more electricity than the entire country of Ireland.
At the time, the network consumed an estimated consume over 30 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year. This is less than its current consumption of 95.45 TWh, according to Digiconomist.
The index explains that the yearly impact of bitcoin is 45.34 metric tons (mt) of CO2. This is comparable to Hong Kong. The coin’s 10.97 kt of e-waste is similar to that of Luxembourg.
However, a 2020 study speculates that they may be underestimated. Rather, the researchers estimate bitcoin energy consumption accounts for “close to half of the current global data center electricity use.”
In China, researchers found that mining could even threaten carbon emission reduction targets.
The environmental impact of mining hardware
In addition to the consumption of electricity, mining hardware is a contribtor to the global e-waste problem.
Bitcoin mining began using simple GPU and CPUs. As the need for power grew, producers began creating unique chips.
Now, bulk mining uses Application-Specific Integrated Circuits