Bitcoin hash rate continues to chart astounding record highs just weeks before the fourth halving. Meanwhile, critics worry Bitcoin mining could be hazardous to the environment.
That hasn’t stopped the price from soaring to a multi-year record high of $46,670, 67% of its historical all-time high price of $69,000 in November 2021.
However, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Bitcoin miners in the United States alone use as much electricity as the entire state of Utah.
The EIA study also estimated that Bitcoin mining accounts for somewhere between 0.6% to as much as 2.3% of all electricity demand in the U.S. in 2023.
Bitcoin Mining Environmental Concerns
Bloomberg Crypto says that mines have generated more than hash power. They’ve also generated “mounting concerns from policymakers and electric grid planners about straining the grid during periods of peak demand, energy costs, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.”
Bitcoin mining firms will soon have to report information about their electricity usage to the EIA, the statistical research arm of the Department of Energy. In a press release out Wednesday, the EIA said:
“We will specifically focus on how the energy demand for cryptocurrency mining is evolving, identify geographic areas of high growth, and quantify the sources of electricity used to meet cryptocurrency mining demand.”
In 2022, Democratic lawmakers asked the biggest Bitcoin mining operations in the U.S. to disclose their electricity usage and any info about pollution from their operations.
Congress asked the Department of Energy and the EPA to require these disclosures after none of the companies provided all the information lawmakers requested.
According to a recent article in Time Magazine,
“Critics say that mining is causing both long-term environmental damage, due to its energy use, as well as local harm.”
How Bitcoin Miners Green The Planet
However, according to a recent analysis in HackerNoon, “Bitcoin mining trends towards using only the cheapest electricity in the world. Meanwhile, “it helps to decarbonize the grid and lower the cost of energy production.” In addition, “it fosters innovation and efficiency in the energy sector.”
The author writes that Bitcoin mining creates “a demand for electricity that would otherwise be wasted or unused, and thus improve the efficiency and utilization of the energy sector.”
“There are many examples of how Bitcoin miners are harnessing stranded energy in remote locations, such as hydroelectric dams, solar farms, and natural gas flares.”
The author also cites a study by digital asset research firm CoinShares that found 74% of Bitcoin mining electricity comes from renewable sources of energy.
A University of Cambridge study meanwhile found that Bitcoin miners generate a staggering 39% of the energy that they use on-site using renewable resources.
With a track record like that, it is not difficult to imagine a future in which Bitcoin mining and blockchain manage the power grid for most of planet Earth.