Bitcoin mining is often denounced by many as an environmental sin or an enormous waste of electricity. However, it is often overlooked that under the right circumstances and with the right provider it can actually do more good than harm. Critics judge Bitcoin mining primarily by the high (and steadily increasing) power consumption that is required by the miners. However, there are also many other factors that can influence the ecological footprint and green conscience regarding Bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin mining as an environmental sin
It’s no secret that mining the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is now exceeding the power consumption of some countries. In a study the researchers Susanne Köhler and Massimo Pizzol took a closer look at the life cycle of Bitcoin mining and its power consumption. For the year 2018 they calculated a value of 31.3 terawatt hours, which corresponds to a CO2 equivalent of 17.3 megatons (or more than 2% of the CO2 emissions of the entire Country of Germany with 800 megatons in 2018). According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index this value is now almost twice as high as two years ago, namely around 60 terawatt hours and almost 28 megatons of CO2.
It should be clear to everyone at this point that this is a huge amount of energy. However, it is the wrong approach to draw conclusions about environmental compatibility from electricity consumption only. The greatest damage to the environment in the form of CO2 arises from the generation of electricity and not from its consumption. Similar to electric cars the ecological classification depends on the type of electricity used. In China, where most Bitcoins are mined worldwide, attempts are being made to cover most of the energy from hydropower plants. Seasonal fluctuations in climate don’t allow that for the whole year though. In the province of Sichuan, the heart of the Chinese mining industry, only a third of the energy is generated in the dry months compared to the rainy months. Due to the high fluctuations, the deficit must be covered by other energy sources in the months with a lack of rain. In China and most other countries around the world this is usually done using coal, gas or nuclear energy. These are the cheapest alternatives in most countries and generally only cost a fraction of electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind or water energy. Even in one’s own household, it can be seen that the cheapest electricity tariff usually does not consist at all or only to a very small extent of renewable energy sources. Since the main focus of Bitcoin mining is on ROI and therefore the lowest possible electricity costs, it is currently not possible in many countries and with many providers to operate Bitcoin mining in an environmentally friendly and at the same time cost-efficient manner.
The right provider makes the difference
Only because something seems impossible it does not say that there is no solution. The company MeaTec LLC found the optimal location and in combination with the right partners a way to offer the mining of cryptocurrencies not only environmentally friendly, but also extremely cheap. The perfect location is in the heart of Russia, more precisely in Siberia.
The largest hydroelectric power plants of the former Soviet Union were built in Siberia during the mining boom of the 1960s and 1970s. These were mainly used to power the aluminum industry there. Russia’s largest aluminum producer Rusal still produces in that area to serve a global market. But Siberia’s low raw material resources put an end to the boom just as quickly. The huge hydropower plants are still running today and continue to produce enormous amounts of climate-neutral electricity, part of which often goes unused. Choosing Siberia as the location for the mining farm not only supports the troubled economy of the region, it also offers many advantages for everyone involved. In addition to electricity from 100% hydropower, the otherwise wasted and unused energy is given a new use case. Through cooperation with regional hydropower plants, this energy can be obtained on very favorable terms. Inexpensive electricity can also be found in other countries around the world. However, aspects such as legal security within the country and reliability when operating the devices also play an important role.
Mining not only requires a lot of energy to operate the devices, but also to cool them. The cold climate of Siberia offers further cost advantages due to the low expenditure in cooling energy. All of these factors enable MeaTec and its customers to mine cryptocurrencies as cost-efficiently as possible and with a green conscience. In summary, mining with the right provider can bring both a high ROI and a clear conscience.