Bitcoin Mining Will Soon Pump Out More Carbon Than Czech Republic, New Study Says

Bitcoin Mining Will Soon Pump Out More Carbon Than Czech Republic, New Study Says

A new study estimates that China’s bitcoin mining energy-hungry process could soon emit 130.50 million metric tons of carbon per year – more than the Czech Republic’s annual income in 2016. As published today in the journal Nature Communications, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences predict that the annual energy costs of China’s bitcoin blockchain will finalized in 2024. Now, bitcoin mining requires about 297 terawatt-hours of energy and emits about 130.50 million metric tons of carbon a year.

These emissions output beat the total greenhouse gas emissions output of entire medium-sized countries, including the Czech Republic or Qatar. Going back a bit, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows peer-to-peer transfers without the need for a centralized authority such as a bank. Transactions are mediated and recorded in a digital ledger, known as a blockchain, shared everyone participating in the system. Blockchain mining is the process of verifying blockchain transactions on a network and recording them in a public blockchain.

Bitcoin Mining Will Soon Pump Out More Carbon Than Czech Republic, New Study Says

To do this, the computer must solve complex mathematical problems. As a reward for contributing their computing resources to the network, “Minor” given fresh-minted bitcoin. As these mathematical problems become increasingly difficult to solve, obtaining fresh bitcoin through mining becomes increasingly difficult. The early adopters of cryptocurrency used to make bitcoins on their home computers, but now it requires a lot of electricity on the computer and the cost of whole warehouses requires electricity.

China accounts for more than 75 percent of bitcoin mining operations worldwide, according to new research. Some parts of rural northern China make it an ideal location to operate industrial-sized bitcoin mines for cheap land, as well as easy access to specialized hardware manufacturers. In this new study, researchers argue that Bitcoin’s energy consumption could undermine global sustainability efforts if drastic changes in policies and policies not introduced immediately.

As part of the study, they used modeling to see how different policy changes could change Bitcoin’s energy costs. They found that current policies, such as carbon tax, are quite ineffective in preventing emissions from the bitcoin industry. According to the survey, the way forward is a separate site control policy. 

For example, authorities could impose stricter controls on the bitcoin industry in coal-fired power zones, and persuade miners to relocate to hydropower-rich regions to take advantage of the low cost of surplus energy in the region. The researchers acknowledged that their predictions were not accurate, as they did not consider possible changes in the Chinese energy sector or any “undisclosed uncertainties … which could deviate from the implementation forecast.”