The Bitcoin network is getting greener. In the fourth quarter of 2021 the share of sustainable energy used by the BTC mining industry rose to 58.5%. However it still consumes a considerable amount of energy, with electricity consumption higher than that of some countries, including Ukraine. As shown in a new infographic by Block-Builders.de, industry heavyweights are determined to further reduce their CO₂ footprint.
These efforts are not to be dismissed: resource consumption not only poses potential problems for the planet, it is also a business risk for the industry.
There are different approaches to this debate. For example, Tyler Winklevoss emphasises that computers and smartphones have a much larger CO₂ footprint than typewriters and telegraphs, and that societies have to accept compromises in the face of revolutionary technologies. At the same time, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is convinced that Bitcoin can contribute to the fight against climate change – above all because the industry promotes increased investment in renewable energies.
Estimates of Bitcoin’s energy needs vary widely. According to recent reports, the Bitcoin network realistically consumes about 188 TWh annually. Globally, Christmas lights are estimated to consume around 201 TWh. While to compare the electricity consumption of a cryptocurrency with that of festive lighting is to compare apples with oranges, such comparisons reveal just what (ecological) price a society is willing or unwilling to pay for various things.