High Power Consumption: Climate Innovations Despite Crypto Crisis: Bitcoin Can Reach Net-Zero Emissions by 2024 | news

• Bad climate balance: Bitcoin mining consumes a huge amount of electricity
• Thanks to methane combustion, the zero emission limit could be reached by the end of 2024
• However, Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mechanism will still require a lot of energy

After years of gradually improving its carbon footprint, the Bitcoin blockchain could reach zero emissions by 2024. However, this prediction is based on a rather complicated calculation: the burning of methane plays a significant role here.


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Bitcoin mining uses more electricity than Finland or Belgium

In addition to cybercrime, where Bitcoin is often used as a means of payment, Bitcoin’s enormous energy consumption is one of the main arguments of crypto-opponents. According to statistics from the University of Cambridge, despite the crypto winter, the estimated annual energy consumption is currently 95.34 terawatts – that is higher than the total energy consumption of some countries like Finland or Belgium. The biggest problem with that: A large portion of the electricity used for Bitcoin mining still comes from fossil energy generation. However, the amount of renewable energy is gradually increasing.

Climate neutrality thanks to burning methane?

The share of CO2-neutral Bitcoin mining has gradually improved in recent years. According to information from “Blockchainwelt”, the rate of CO₂-neutral Bitcoin mining was still 41 percent in March 2021; this value is currently around 62.4 percent. In the coming year, this share is expected to rise to 72 percent. In December 2024, the net-zero emission limit can then be reached.

The use of falling energy plays an important role here. This happens, for example, when using gas from natural gas production or refining; so far the gas has been burned off uselessly. The biogas that accumulates in sewage treatment plants during the biological treatment of liquid manure and faeces has also decreased. For operators of (bio)gas plants, burning is the cheapest disposal option, as it requires a lot of effort to supply it to the electricity grid and is therefore unprofitable.

But: If combustion engines or gas turbines were set up right next to the treatment plants to generate electricity, this waste energy would be usable and relatively cheap. Therefore, there is an increasing number of Bitcoin miners who settle next to such biogas plants, especially since the computers do not care about odors. The special highlight of this development: by producing electricity from biogas, methane is burned, which is a gas that has a great impact on the climate. This saves high emissions, which are offset by other factors and thus have a positive effect on the Bitcoin miners’ climate balance.

The burning of methane is thus an important reason for the expected achievement of the net-zero emission limit. A study by the “Bitcoin Network” came to the same conclusion: “We assume that Bitcoin mining using vented methane as electricity will initially grow at only 83 percent of the growth rate of flared gas mining (6.9 MW /month).Based on this more modest growth rate, we predict that the Bitcoin network will become completely carbon neutral by Q4 2024.”

Net zero emissions is not the same as CO2 neutrality

However, reaching the net-zero emissions limit is in no way equivalent to climate neutrality. The power consumption of bitcoin mining will remain extremely high. This energy could be used much more wisely elsewhere, as critics complain. The hugely energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) process of generating new bitcoins is mainly responsible for the high power requirement.

On the other hand, the Ethereum blockchain switched from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to PoS on September 15, which will reduce future energy consumption by approximately 99.95 percent. Such a change is not planned for Bitcoin in the foreseeable future, the security concerns are too great. The majority of the major Bitcoin players are convinced that the PoW mechanism is the only truly secure consensus-finding mechanism that meets the high standards of Bitcoin.

Editor finanzen.net

Image sources: REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock.com, 3Dsculptor / Shutterstock.com

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