December 10, 2023

FSM Media

by Dianna Ranere

What are the Environmental Effects of Cryptocurrency?

Photo by Dmitry Demidko on Unsplash

At the beginning of 2011, the bitcoin price was $1; this year, it hit an all-time high of $65,000 and is currently worth $48,000 per coin. More and more individuals are becoming interested in investing in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin since some people have made millions of dollars in only a few days. It may be hard for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change, however, due to the tremendous energy consumption and environmental problems associated with Bitcoin’s rise in popularity. For more precise information, visit

Why Is Energy Necessary for Mining?

PoW blockchains have a very competitive character, which is why the cost of electricity is so high. We can only record new blocks and validate using specialized computers in a race against one another. Cryptocurrency proponents argue that the lack of a single trusted middleman or single point of failure makes this system superior to centralized currencies. In contrast, solving mining’s mathematical challenges requires a lot of energy-consuming computations.

For the most extensively used cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, power consumption is 122.87 Terawatt-hours per year, more than in the Netherlands. An analytics service claims that Ethereum’s network consumes more power than the Philippines. Environmentalists worry that mining becomes less efficient as the challenges arise. For example, as the number of verified blocks rises, the mathematical problems used to produce Bitcoin blocks get more complex, yet transaction throughput remains constant.

The Environmental Effects of Cryptocurrency Mining

The amount of energy required to generate bitcoins and validate transactions rises as mining efficiency falls. As a result, large-scale miners must be in a place where energy is plentiful, reliable, and as inexpensive as possible.

Emissions of Carbon Dioxide and Energy Use

For every nonce that generates the target hash, the process of finding the appropriate one can take billions of tries, like a criminal hacking into your password. To put it another way, Bitcoin is estimated to need 707kwH every transaction, which is a lot for a single transaction. It requires additional energy to keep the computers cool since they create heat. A University of Cambridge investigation indicated that bitcoin mining needs 121.36 terawatt-hours of power per year. It is more than the combined consumption of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft, or even the whole country of Argentina.

It’s just worsening since miners have to keep up with the competition by constantly increasing their computational power. To make mining financially viable, miners must process more transactions or minimize the power they consume. So miners have to find the most affordable electricity and upgrade to machines that use more power. Bitcoin’s energy usage climbed by over 62 times between March of 2015 and March of 2021. Cambridge University estimates that just 39% of this energy derives from renewable sources, with hydropower accounting for the majority of that share.


In December, a new phenomenon in the art world, known as NFTs, emerged and has since contributed to cryptocurrencies’ environmental worries. Digital files containing images, music, films, or other artwork encodes with unique strings of code are non-fungible tokens. Even though NFTs may be seen or copied, only one unique NFT is stored on the blockchain and protects the same energy-intensive proof of work procedure. Digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for more than $69 million after selling one for hundreds of thousands of dollars. With an average carbon footprint ten times greater than an Ethereum transaction, an NFT emits the same amount of pollution as driving 500 miles in a gas-powered automobile.

E-Waste and Water Issues

In addition to consuming a lot of water, power plants like Greenidge use much energy. To keep the plant cool, Greenidge uses up to 139 million gallons of fresh water each day from Seneca Lake, which it then dumps into the lake at temperatures that are 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the lake’s normal. Fish and other species get into its enormous intake pipes, killing larvae and fish.

Even if all bitcoin mining is by renewable energy in the future, there would still be an e-waste issue. Miners seek after hardware that can do the most calculations per unit of energy to remain competitive. We can’t use each of the 1.5-year-old pieces of this specialized gear to perform anything else. Thanks to the Bitcoin network, we already have a massive e-waste problem, creating around 11.5 kilotons of electronic garbage each year.

Developments in the Cryptocurrency Mining Technology

Accordingly, it is worth mentioning that several cryptocurrencies are reworking or redesigning to consume less energy. Rather than using mining equipment to verify transactions, the cryptocurrency owner is “staked” in the network, as in the case of proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchains.

Proof-of-burn or proof-of-capacity are other blockchain validation techniques in the market. In comparison to validation and consensus mining, these models consume less energy. Despite these efforts, there may still be ecological issues that need attention. If proof-of-work mining is out of the equation, pricey and specialized mining gear may be of little utility.