Could Bitcoin Ever Go Green

 Could Bitcoin Ever Go Green

Cryptocurrency is an infamous culprit in the climate. A February study by the University of Cambridge concluded that the global network of bitcoin miners - running legions of computers that compete to unlock coins while solving increasingly complex math problems - consumes roughly the same amount of electricity annually as Argentina. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a March 10 article in Joule magazine, this is equivalent to emissions in the London Underground area, as bitcoin mining volumes rose along with prices.

Bitcoin is trying to go green

The latest blow to green bitcoin came in Norway. On March 8, the second largest man in the country, oil billionaire Kjell Inge Rökke, founded a new venture called Seetee. In a letter to shareholders, Rökke said the company's goal is to establish mining operations that transfer idle or intermittent electricity without stable local demand - wind, solar, hydropower - into economic assets that can be used anywhere.He writes that Bitcoin is a cost-effective load-balancing battery and batteries are needed to transition to the energy needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In other words, the plan is to locate Bitcoin mining centers in locations where renewable energy farms overproduce electricity during periods of low demand and absorb that excess mining capacity. The mine receives low-cost, zero-carbon electricity; a wind or solar farm gets a reliable big buyer.

The ethical energy dilemma of cryptocurrency

As mining far exceeds the availability of  leftover energy, even the best intentions and most compelling green energy efforts end up hitting an ethical conundrum: Is cryptocurrency really the best way to use capital and natural resources when the world is in a race to decarbonize?

If you wait long enough, the network will turn greener, but in the meantime, Bitcoin will cause a big bias,de Vries said. Renewable energy that we could use to clean up the network will instead go into mining bitcoin.

More solutions can be implemented in the code itself, including energy efficient digital transaction techniques. But fundamental changes that will make the guilt-free digital currency widely available - for example, completely abandoning the mining process in favor of a less computationally-demanding blockchain approach - will require consensus in the mining community and risk causing a collapse in the currency's value. Bitcoin's main competitor, Ethereum, plans to implement such a technological shift indefinitely.

 Could Bitcoin Ever Go Green

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