Bitcoin mining and its impact on the environment has been in the news recently, as Elon Musk tweeted his concern about the amount of its fossil fuel usage, and withdrawing his support of the cryptocurrency.
But is he correct about the current situation of mining energy consumption? Are all Bitcoin mining facilities destroying the planet at a rapid rate? Or is there more to the story, where Bitcoin mining might actually be accelerating clean energy adoption?
As someone who has scaled a mining facility from his dorm room to a multinational operation, here’s the real conversation around Bitcoin mining and its environmental impact — and it’s more positive than you are led to believe.
What is Bitcoin Mining?
In order to understand the concerns around its energy consumption, you have to understand Bitcoin mining. Even though they’re a digital currency, bitcoins themselves have to be mined in order to enter circulation — not with picks and shovels, but with computers. Miners from around the world compete to solve an algorithm, which allows them to add the next block to the blockchain. The miner that solves the algorithm first receives a transaction fee and bitcoins as their reward — which is how Bitcoin enters circulation.
There was a time when hobbyists had the computing