Blockchain technology wouldn’t be what it is today if not for the miners who spend so much money on mining operations. Miners are the unsung heroes of the industry considering the number of things they need to do in order to get their share of profit. It is imperative that they have the best computational power, not to mention consider the cost of electricity before they even start operations. Miners invest in GPUs and ASICs in order to get the desired results.
A new study suggests that Bitcoin mining is detrimental to the environment. In fact, it is growing at an alarming rate to the point that worldwide Bitcoin mining operations are already enough to power countries.
Eric Holthaus was able to publish a report regarding Bitcoin energy use last year. In the last six months then, he mentioned that Bitcoin energy footprint got worse and doubled. However, he brings the bad news that things aren’t done yet. It is again expected to double by the end of the year.
But of course, there is good news that comes from the report. For instance, Bitcoin’s energy consumption growth rate slowed down by 20% for this year mainly because of the hardware improvements. But still, this is a huge number.
By Holthaus calculations, Bitcoin is on its way to consume the entire world’s electricity by 2021. But of course, that is a worst-case scenario. And for this reason, it isn’t really hard to understand why there are governments that are looking to ban crypto activity.
Romania’s ex-energy minister even warns about the effects of the growing number of miners in the country lately. He mentioned that he is alarmed by the inaction of officials.
Blockchain Can Also Empower Green Efforts
But of course, blockchain technology can also do something to help the planet. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Moldova was able to get enough funding via a cryptocurrency funded solar energy.
It is an initiative that was made together with Sun Exchange, which is a South African solar power marketplace. It allows people to buy solar cells using SolarCoin, a digital currency that was launched by ElectriCChain. The solar cells are then leased to the Technical University of Moldova, which is the country’s largest university.
According to Dumitru Vasilescu who works as the program manager with UNDP in Moldova, the goal is to “help buildings go green overnight”. However, it isn’t a simple endeavor without the use of blockchain technology. He said that “One of the biggest obstacles to countries investing in renewable energy is a lack of finance, as you often have to wait 10 to 15 years before you get a return on your investment”.
After the funding was made using the digital currency, the university is going to have a full 1 megawatt of energy installed this summer. The owners who bought the SolarCoins will then earn an interest of about 4%.
Blockchain technology is still in its infancy. However, this type of issue is quite problematic especially now that there are a great number of people using Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Will there be other greener alternatives to mining?