One of the founders of Ethereum claimed that Bitcoin consumes almost 1% of the world’s electricity consumption, but various sources suggest that this figure is much lower.
The ongoing heated debate over Bitcoin’s energy consumption was revived when Ethereum co-founder Anthony Donofrio claimed that Bitcoin uses “too much” energy.
According to Digiconomist, Bitcoin (BTC) currently consumes 0.82% of the world’s energy, while Ethereum (ETH) consumes 0.34%. Ethereum researcher Justin Drake posted the numbers for his 56,000 followers, which Donofrio retweeted, stating:
Ethereum advocates are trying to bet on Bitcoin, pushing Ethereum’s upcoming transition to proof of stake. Shortly thereafter, Drake added another tweet that read: “After the Ethereum merger: 0.000% of the world.”
However, the significance of the numbers is questionable.
Even Drake had to acknowledge alternative sources of data in a later tweet that showed energy estimates nearly 60% lower.
Digiconomist’s data, which bills itself as a platform that “uncovers the unintended consequences of digital trends,” has drawn criticism from blockchain industry professionals in the past. The most notable of these is fellow Ethereum developer Josh Stark, who called for the publication to often present a worst-case scenario regarding blockchain technology.
Last November, Stark posted a Twitter thread questioning the accuracy of Digiconimist’s research methodology. Stark noted that almost all blockchain power consumption figures are at the “very high level” of all theoretical results, especially when compared to more rigorous sources such as the University of Cambridge.
While Digiconomist claims that Bitcoin currently consumes 204 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year, the Cambridge University Bitcoin Consumption Index estimates actual Bitcoin consumption much closer to 125 TWh, a difference of 39%.
Related: Are we wrong about the environmental impact of bitcoin mining? Slush Pool Marketing Director Christian Chepsar explains.
While it may be common knowledge that Bitcoin’s proof-of-work consensus mechanism is energy-intensive, the debate over how much electricity the Bitcoin network actually consumes remains a hot topic.
According to the Cointelegraph report, it can be quite difficult to get a specific number for the actual energy consumption of bitcoins due to the various energy sources that provide bitcoin mining around the world.
As of January of this year, almost 60% of the world’s mining operations are reportedly powered by renewable energy, and bitcoin miners are rushing to tap stuck natural gas resources that are usually flared. In addition, a report published by CoinShares in January of this year showed that bitcoin mining could account for as little as 0.08% of the world’s total carbon emissions in 2021.
Sam Tabar, head of security at Bit Digital, a public bitcoin mining company, told Cointelegraph that critics often exaggerate bitcoin’s environmental impact:
“The environmental impact of bitcoin mining is greatly exaggerated by critics and traditional financial bodies (IMF, etc.) because they know they can divide the new countercultural movement using bogus environmental arguments. They’re trying to turn us against each other. They’re lighting up the world with fake green arguments, and I can see why: they don’t want to lose leverage over leverage in a system that only works for the elite.”