Bitcoin Mining Emmisions Intensity Went Up in 2021

News Flash

  • Cambridge University’s Centre for Alternative Finance‘s (CCAF) reports that the mix of sustainable electricity used in bitcoin mining is in decline.
  •  CCAF uses publicly available data to run a theoretical model to estimate the environmental footprint of bitcoin mining. 
  • It found that emissions intensity for 2021 was 506.71 gCO2e/kWh, compared to 491.24 in 2020.

 Since 2019, the CCAF’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) has provided a daily estimate of the amount of electricity used by bitcoin mining globally. Additionally, its Mining Map, rolled out in 2020, is used to visualize the geographical distribution of mining activities.

Coindesk reports that the uptick in fossil fuel emission intensity in bitcoin mining from 2020 to 2021 could be attributed to a collapse in the share conducted using hydropower since the crackdown on the industry in China last year.

Credit: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Comsumption Index

In 2020, the CCAF found that China accounted for 65% of the world’s total hashrate, with the majority of mining activity there powered by either hydropower (33.7%) or coal (40.4%). Hydropower’s share in 2021, however, was down to 18.5%, with coal’s reduced slightly to 38.2%.

The CCAF concludes that 37.6% of electricity used by bitcoin miners comes from sustainable sources, compared to 62.4% from fossil fuels. However, this figure is at odds with that provided by the Bitcoin Mining Council, which says 59% of the electricity used by the industry comes from sustainable sources. Read more 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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