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Crypto mining uses as much energy as conventional data centers, says US Federal report


A report commissioned by the White House has warned that cryptocurrency mining is using up to 0.9 percent of all the world's electricity, and criticizes proof-of-work schemes as used on Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The report, from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), has called for more research into the energy impact of mining for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, as well as further investigation of whether the underlying distributed ledger technology, blockchain, could be harnessed for positive environmental work.

The report, Climate, and Energy Implications of Crypto-Assets in the United States [PDF] comes in response to President Biden's Executive Order 14067: “Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets,” which asked how digital development related to the US' climate change goals.


Electricity demands

Worldwide, crypto mining consumes between 120 and 240 billion kWh of energy per year, which is between 0.4 and 0.9 percent of the world's electricity usage, and more than some entire countries, such as Argentina or Australia. This figure is also comparable with the entire consumption of conventional, non-crypto data, which is around 200 to 250 billion kWh per year, according to the OSTP report.

The US probably has the most crypto-mining, hosting around one-third of the world's crypto operations, and spends between 0.9 and 1.7 percent of its electricity on the activity - an amount roughly equivalent to all the home computers in the country, or all the residential lighting.

This creates some 25 to 50 Megatons of CO2 per year, which is 0.4 to 0.8 percent of the country's total GHG emissions, roughly similar to the emissions from diesel fuel used in railroads.

The report also notes that cryptocurrency mining produces large amounts of electronic waste, as application-specific chips (ASICs) are quickly superseded, and can't be repurposed for other uses.

Worldwide, the report says that Bitcoin and Ethereum consumed one hundred times as much as the entire carbon footprint of Visa, Mastercard, and American Express combined - while processing a tiny fraction of the number of transactions handled by credit card companies.



Published on 1/31/2023 (50 days ago) General