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Bitcoin mining is mostly sustainable, new report suggests



Second report published on November 30, more than half of the energy that powers the mining of the main cryptocurrency comes from renewable sources.

The survey was carried out by Daniel Batten, who is an environmentalist, entrepreneur and ESG analyst (acronym in English that refers to the sustainability of a corporation based on environmental, social and governance criteria). He was based on the methodology of a study carried out by the CCAF (Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance), an organization of the University of Cambridge, which had reached the considerably lower value of 37.6%.

According to Batten, the main problem with the previous research was not taking into account miners who use energy off grid, that is, isolated from the electrical network. The CCAF itself admits this, citing a lack of reliable data on the subject, and promises to include them in updates. The businessman then proposed to carry out a field survey that lasted more than 6 months, collecting data from 42 companies in the area.

From his research, he came to the conclusion that only a third of grid-connected mining uses renewable energy. Renewable energy used in mining off grid, on the other hand, accounts for almost two-thirds of the total. Putting both together, the result is 52.2%. The researcher made the caveat that he chose the most unfavorable estimate for the industry whenever he found inconclusive data, suggesting that it may be even greener than his study could attest.

Bitcoin network power usage. Source: Batten

The research also came to the conclusion that it is false that the main source of energy used by Bitcoin is coal, a result that the Cambridge researchers had found.

“When we consider mining off grid, the hypothesis that coal is the main source of energy for the Bitcoin network is falsified. Previous studies likely reached this conclusion because Bitcoin mining on the power grid uses percentages that are very close to the global energy distribution.” said Batten.

“Thanks to its mobility, Bitcoin mining is one of the few industries that can draw most of its energy from sources off grid🇧🇷 For this reason, it appears that, contrary to the conclusions of the CCAF report, Bitcoin mining is one of the very few industries that do not use coal as its main energy source.”

Surveys like this qualify the debate about the environmental impacts of mining, strengthening the arguments of advocates of the practice. Recently, the White House released a report that even recommended banning proof-of-work mining, which is used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin and Dogecoin. Among its sources was the Cambridge poll, as well as the infamous polls by central banker Alex DeVries’ Digiconomist blog, whose errors have been extensively exposed by experts.

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