There are always new findings and research happening on the number one cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The buzz about the negative effects on the environment due to crypto maintenance and mining is also not new. The recently released energy consumption figures, though estimated, certainly shows the concerns are all valid.
The latest research says that Bitcoin’s energy consumption percentage is higher than that of Switzerland. This interesting research has been carried out and published by the University of Cambridge’s research team.
The University launched an online index tool on 2nd July called CBECI, i.e., Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. The index not only renders an estimate of total power usage by the Bitcoin network annually but also allows to make live comparisons with the alternative energy uses. As a result, it becomes possible to put the figures into perspective.
At present, the site estimates Bitcoin’s electricity consumption to be 7.66 GW. Based on that, the annual consumption would be anywhere around 62 TWh (Terawatt hours of power consumption). These figures are more than Switzerland’s electricity consumption figures, 58 TWh each year, for the exact same timeline. However, the numbers are less than that of Columbia, which uses 68 TWh yearly.
What that means is the current estimate of Bitcoin’s energy consumption is approximately 0.25% of the total electricity consumption of the world. To put it more interestingly in a real-world scenario, this is more than sufficient energy that all the European tea kettles need annually for boiling water or even the energy required by the University of Cambridge for as many as 365 years.
Considering another perspective, the electricity which is wasted every year through always switched-on but nonactive electricity appliances in the United States could alone power the network of Bitcoin more than four times.
The index also includes estimated lower as well as upper bound. While writing, the lower estimate was 23.05 TWh, and the upper theoretical bound was 186.90 TWh.
According to Michel Rauchs, a co-creator of the index CBECI, they want to utilize comparisons which set the narrative. He added saying that the website’s visitors could decide for themselves whether the figures seem small or large.
It is a well-established fact that Bitcoin needs significantly higher electricity, which is utilized by miners globally for running the computer system necessary for network maintenance and payment validation. However, at the same time, it must be noted that these numbers are only estimates.
As noted in the official blog post that announced the CBECI, reliable estimates when it comes to electricity usage by Bitcoin are scarce. In fact, in the majority of cases, they render a one-off snapshot. Moreover, it was also stated that the numbers demonstrate substantial discrepancies often, model to model.
Although the figures are estimated, it certainly evokes many questions and concerns over the environmental effect, especially the massive carbon footprint that such a huge energy consumption can lead to. In the previous month, a study had revealed that Bitcoin’s carbon emission levels were greater than some countries and comparable to the levels caused by Kansas City or a compact country.