Bitcoin mining reportedly exceeded Sweden’s electricity usage last year, yet alternatives are emerging in the mining mix.
Over the course of 2022, global Bitcoin mining consumed 161 TWh of electricity in total, according to Digiconomist. The tech-skeptic platform said this amount of electricity exceeded the annual use of a country such as Sweden.
It found that each of the roughly 93 million transactions on the Bitcoin network last year averaged 1,738 kWh of electrical energy. A single one of these could have powered an average US household for two months, Digiconomist added. Although the number of transactions actually fell from 2021, Bitcoin’s share of global electricity consumption incidentally rose to 0.64%.
Meanwhile, Digiconomist added that a single Bitcoin transaction last year emitted some 969 kilograms of CO2. This reportedly corresponds to the carbon footprint per passenger of a one-way flight from New York to Sydney. Digiconomist said the annual total of 90 megatons in CO2 emissions effectively negated any global net savings from electric vehicles.
Crypto mining figures
While Digiconomist disparages crypto mining’s global effect on sustainability, renewable resources are taking a greater share in the energy mix. The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index publishes some of the most widely-accepted figures. According to its latest data from January 2022, renewable energy sources make up nearly 40% of Bitcoin’s energy consumption.
The Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC), a Bitcoin mining global forum, also compiled more recent data on the subject. According to the results of its survey, some 66.8% of BMC members currently utilize a sustainable power mix. Based on this data, they estimated that the global bitcoin mining industry’s sustainable electricity mix was roughly 59.5%. This constitutes an increase of approximately 6% year-on-year, from Q2 2021 to Q2 2022.
The Cambridge data highlighted that a pair of resources are starting to grow in their share of the energy mix. The role of natural gas and nuclear energy in Bitcoin mining has been growing notably over the past two years. The share of gas in the BTC electricity mix surged from about 13% in 2020 to 23% in 2021. On the other hand, the percentage of nuclear energy increased from 4% in 2021 to nearly 9% in 2022.
These alternative approaches have seen some attention over the past year. In addition to harnessing geothermal energy, El Salvador’s also plans on utilizing volcanoes for their natural gas to power Bitcoin mining. Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has encouraged miners to come take advantage of the region’s cheap nuclear energy.