Global warming is certainly one of humanity’s greatest challenges. For decades, public opinion has held the highly industrialized countries responsible for the damage done to our planet. In the quest for the preservation of the Earth, it has become increasingly popular to criticize Bitcoin mining for its high energy consumption and its potentially harmful impact on the environment. The exploitation of Bitcoin relies on Proof-of-Work to keep its registry. This mining network consists of computers (and powered by them), which obviously use electricity. As adoption progresses, more and more computers join the network, which makes the whole assembly very energy consuming. Profit and efficiency are directly related to energy input – a seemingly dangerous business model if electricity sources are not taken into account. Although the data indicates that Bitcoin uses 1% of the world’s electricity, it incorrectly suggests that (if this was not the case for Bitcoin), electricity would not be produced – nor needed. In fact, the electricity used to power Bitcoin mining farms often comes from an excess of energy that countries desperately need to discharge. In the case of green energy solutions such as wind farms and solar energy, it is often very difficult to store or even sell this energy if the supply outweighs the demand. This problem is particularly prevalent in countries like China, where 70% of the world’s bitcoins are mined. Reuters said that “wasted [Chinese] wind energy accounted for about 12% of total production in 2017,” and it is extremely difficult to distribute this surplus, as other countries in the region are also energy-rich. . In other words, the countries that attract cryptocurrency miners with cheap electricity is because supply far exceeds demand. Cryptocurrency extraction plays an important role in the normalization of international energy markets by consuming energy that otherwise would be wasted
<blockquote>What happens when you build a 50 megawatt plant in a place where they only have 15 megawatts of demand? In some cases, if it’s alternative energy, like wind, solar, or hydro, you can’t turn it off or turn it down. You’ve built it, and it will produce, and then what? You’re basically wasting energy.Now what if, in that environment, you can find a way to turn that energy into an alternative store of value […] by using electricity that would be otherwise wasted. Now, Bitcoin is an environmental subsidy to alternative energy all around the world.</blockquote>
The fact that energy is “stored” in the form of cryptocurrency offsets the cost of developing these solutions – especially now that we know that a lot of renewable energy is wasted. The Bitcoin mining industry is actually contributing to the development of alternative energy solutions by converting excess energy into a valuable product simply by using the electricity produced. Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest public service, is a perfect example.