A new study indicates that Bitcoin has already used more energy so far this year than it has in all of 2020.
By the end of the year, the Bitcoin network will consume 91 TWh (terawatt-hours or trillion watt-hours) and has already used more than an estimated 67 TWh for the whole of 2020 according to September. 13 Bloomberg Report.
The exact figures for power consumption are variable and it is not easy to calculate accurately, but the trend is clear – they are increasing. The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index currently estimates that BTC is set to consume a greater 95.68 terabyte/hour by the end of the year. This is the same as the energy consumption in the Philippines.
A separate study by Science Direct has highlighted another issue – e-waste. E-waste generally refers to discarded computers and electronic devices. The report notes that one transaction on the Bitcoin network generates 272 grams of electronic waste, consisting mostly of old mining equipment.
Bitcoin miners are “moving through an increasing amount of short-lived devices that could exacerbate the growth in global e-waste,” she added, adding that annual e-waste generation totaled 30.7 kilometric tons as of May 2021.
The study expected that by the end of the year it reported:
“Bitcoin can produce up to 64.4 metric kilotons.” [64,400 tons] of e-waste at the peak Bitcoin price levels seen in early 2021.”
E-waste per transaction is about half the weight of the latest iPad. But to put that in context, Apple itself may be facing a huge e-waste problem with more than 1.65 billion devices running on the ecosystem as of last year according to CEO Tim Cook. This could result in up to 250,000 metric tons of e-waste when it becomes obsolete according to Zdnet.
Bitcoin represents about 0.11% of the estimated global total of e-waste in 2021, which is 57.4 million metric tons according to Statista.
Related: Green Bitcoin: Impact and Importance of Proof of Work Energy
Bitcoin’s energy use is also small in context, depending on your point of view. As a percentage of total global electricity consumption, bitcoin mining accounts for just 0.43%. That’s less than the estimated 104 terawatt-hours used by refrigerators in the US alone according to the University of Cambridge.
The Onion took a more humorous view on Bitcoin energy consumption which said that the computing power used to mine BTC is actually saving humanity from destruction. The reasoning behind the cynical assumption is that the world’s computers, freed from the demands of crypto-mining, “will likely apply that computational power to become self-aware and, ultimately, wipe out the human race.”
While Bitcoin mining consumes a huge amount of energy, since the exodus of large miners from China, much of it has become renewable as new and relocated farms and factories come online in the US and Canada backed by green energy.
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