A new study suggests that Bitcoin has already used more energy so far this year than all of 2020.
According to the report published on September 13 by Bloomberg, having already consumed more than the estimated 67 TW / h for the whole of 2020, by the end of the year the Bitcoin network will have consumed 91 TW / h (terawatt hour or one trillion watts per hour. ).
The precise energy consumption figures are variable and not easy to calculate precisely, but the trend is clear: they are increasing. The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index currently estimates that BTC is set to consume 95.68 TW / h by the end of the year, equivalent to the energy consumption of the Philippines.
A separate study by Science Direct highlights another problem: electronic waste. Electronic waste generally refers to waste computer and electronic equipment. The report suggests that a transaction on the Bitcoin network produces 272 grams of e-waste, mostly consisting of old mining hardware.
He added that Bitcoin miners “undergo a constant cycle of replacement of an increasing amount of short-lived hardware, a phenomenon that could exacerbate the growth of global e-waste,” stating that the process’s annual e-waste generation amounts to 30. 7 metric kilotons in May 2021.
Projecting it to the end of the year, the report concludes:
“Bitcoin could produce up to 64.4 metric kilotons [64.400 tonnellate] of e-waste at the highest Bitcoin price levels seen in early 2021 “.
The e-waste per transaction is about half the weight of the latest iPad. But to put it in context, Apple itself could be facing a massive e-waste problem with the more than 1.65 billion devices running in the ecosystem as of last year, according to CEO Tim Cook. According to Zdnet, this could result in up to 250,000 tons of electronic waste when they become obsolete.
Bitcoin represents about 0.11% of the estimated global total for e-waste in 2021, which according to Statista is equal to 57.4 million tons.
Related: Green Bitcoin: The Impact and Importance of Energy Use for Proof-of-Work
Bitcoin’s power consumption is also small in context, depending on the perspective. As a percentage of total global electricity consumption, Bitcoin mining accounts for only 0.43%. This is less than the estimated 104 TW / h used by refrigerators in the United States alone according to the University of Cambridge.
A more humorous take on Bitcoin’s energy consumption was taken by The Onion, who claimed that the computing power used for mining BTC is actually saving humanity from destruction. The rationale behind the sarcastic premise is that, if unencumbered by cryptocurrency mining demands, the world’s computers “would most likely apply that computational power to become self-aware and ultimately exterminate the human race.”
Although Bitcoin mining consumes an enormous amount of energy, since the great exodus of miners from China, a large portion is now powered by renewable sources as businesses come back online in the United States and Canada.