In a detailed analysis of Bitcoin’s carbon dioxide emission, researchers at the Technical University of Munich discovered that the cryptocurrency causes an annual CO2 footprint of 22 megatons. That’s an equivalent emission of cites such as Las Vegas or Hamburg.
Now, you’re wondering, Bitcoin is just a virtual currency, how does it produce so much carbon dioxide? Two words: energy consumption.
To execute and validate the crypto-coin transfer, an arbitrary computer in the global Bitcoin network must first solve a mathematical puzzle. The system then rewards the puzzle solver in Bitcoin.
Over the years, the computing power required to run this process – Bitcoin mining – has increased.
For example, mining the cryptocurrency for one month using advanced computer hardware would require 1,375kW of electricity. Statistics show that the required power quadrupled in 2018 alone.
As a result, the Bitcoin boom raises an essential question; how does the cryptocurrency affect the climate?
Several past studies have attempted to provide an answer. However, they have been based primarily on the number of approximations – until now.
Bitcoin’s Carbon Dioxide Emission: Collecting the Data
For their study, the researchers analyzed the IP addresses of Bitcoin miners as well as the IPO filings of hardware manufacturers. The goal was simple; to track down the cryptocurrency’s power consumption.
First, the team calculated the power consumption of the networks, which depends on the hardware used for mining.
While different users depend on various hardware, three manufacturers control the ASIC miner market. Using their IPO filings, the team was able to calculate the market shares of the companies respective products.
Next, the study had to determine the scale of mining. How many lone miners are working from home, and how many run a large scale mining farm?
A mining farm is a professional set up. As such, it requires additional energy to…