One of Ethereum’s founders claimed that Bitcoin consumes almost 1% of the world’s electricity consumption, but various sources indicate that this figure is much lower.
The increasingly heated debate surrounding 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 released the numbers among his 56,000 followers that Donofrio retweeted, stating:
Ethereum supporters are attempting to attack bitcoin as they push Ethereum’s upcoming transition to proof-of-stake. Shortly after, Drake added another tweet: “After the Ethereum merger: 0.000% of the world.”
However, the reliability of the figures is questionable.
Even Drake had to acknowledge alternative data sources in a later tweet, which estimated power consumption to be nearly 60% lower.
Data from Digiconomist, 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 pushed the publication to often present a worst-case scenario when it comes to blockchain technology.
Last November, Stark posted a Twitter thread questioning the accuracy of Digiconimist’s research methodology. Stark noted that almost all blockchain electricity consumption figures were at the “very high level” of any 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 University of Cambridge’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates that Bitcoin’s actual consumption is 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 an energy-intensive process, the debate over how much energy the Bitcoin network actually consumes remains a hot topic.
According to the Cointelegraph report, it can be quite difficult to give a concrete value for the actual energy consumption of Bitcoin due to the differences in the energy sources that enable Bitcoin mining around the world.
As of January this year, nearly 60% of the world’s mining operations are reportedly powered by renewable energy, and bitcoin miners are rushing to tap into stuck natural gas resources that are typically flared. Additionally, a report published by CoinShares in January this year showed that Bitcoin mining could account for just 0.08% of the world’s total carbon emissions in 2021.
Sam Tabar, security director at Bit Digital, a public bitcoin mining company, told Cointelegraph that critics often exaggerate bitcoin’s environmental impact:
“The environmental impact of bitcoin mining has been greatly exaggerated by critics and traditional financial bodies (IMF etc.) knowing they can divide the new countercultural movement with bogus environmental arguments. They’re trying to play us off against each other. They intimidate the world with bogus green arguments, and I understand why: they don’t want to lose their grip on the levers of power in a system that only works for the elite.”