Alex de Vries, an economist who wrote an article on “Problems of Bitcoin’s Growing Energy,” in scientific journal Joule, on the 16th of May, told the Independent that by the end of 2018, Bitcoin mining would consume 0.5 percent of the world’s energy.
De Vries infers that as the Bitcoin network currently uses around 2.55 GW of electricity and progress towards using 7.67 GW in the future, the network “has a huge problem, and it is increasing fast.” However, he does note that the Lightning Network and similar solutions “may ease the situation.”
Bitcoin mining needs energy for calculating the hashes that give miners BTC rewards. It was reported in February that cryptocurrency mining in Iceland would consume more electrical energy than households in the country in 2018. Due to the extreme need for Bitcoin in underbanked nations, some see the discussion over whether Bitcoin mining is overly harmful to the environment as a non-issue.
The scientific research goes into detail about the various types of Bitcoin miners and their specific energy consumption, noting that “trying to measure the electricity used by the Bitcoin mining rigs producing all those hash calculations is still a difficulty to date.” De Vries cites Bitmain’s Antminers as his primary example to explain how much energy each device uses in its lifetime.
De Vries told the Independent that as his study is the first time the peers have reviewed data on Bitcoin energy usage, he believes his article will “begin the conversation,” as he thinks that the world requires “more scientific study on where this network is going” and not “back-of-the-envelope calculations.”
On the other hand, the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin is being used to mitigate environmental consequence in some situations. IBM announced a partnership with Veridium Labs this week, with the purpose of tokenizing carbon credits to allow organizations to track their carbon trail through blockchain better, potentially letting them reduce their carbon impact.