May 8, 2024

Bitcoin Environmental Impact: The Full Picture

Learn how Bitcoin is driving green energy change. Discover its surprising environmental impact.

Bitcoin Environmental Impact: The Full Picture

The environmental impact of Bitcoin, particularly concerning its energy consumption, sparks debates worldwide. Understanding this impact requires a nuanced view that considers both its energy-intensive nature and the innovative Earth-conscious power generation initiatives it creates.

Bitcoin Mining: A High-Energy Activity

Bitcoin mining is undeniably energy-intensive. As a result, critics constantly attack Bitcoin mining operations for their significant carbon footprint, often comparing it to the energy consumption of entire countries. 

However, it's crucial to consider that the mining process creates new bitcoin, verifies transactions, and secures an unhackable worldwide network. The Bitcoin network extends banking services to those who need them the most and grants property rights to individuals globally. Thus, the energy is well spent.

The Environmental Costs of Bitcoin Mining

The correlation between Bitcoin mining and environmental impact stems from the predominantly fossil fuel-based energy sources that powered mining operations in the recent past. Additionally, the production and disposal of mining hardware, along with the environmental consequences of e-waste, exacerbate these concerns.

While it's true that mining operations historically relied on non-renewable energy sources, the industry has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. 

Bitcoin Mining: The Greenest Industry?

Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin mining has emerged as one of the greenest industries operating worldwide. Today, an increasing number of mining facilities are powered by renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind power.

Sustainable Power Mix: Bitcoin Mining Vs Countries (% of TWh)

Renewable energy sources offer several advantages, including lower operating costs, greater energy efficiency, and reduced environmental impact. As a result, many mining companies are strategically locating their operations near renewable energy sources to capitalize on these benefits.

As per the latest report from the Bitcoin Mining Council, released in August 2023:

“The members of the BMC and participants in the survey are currently utilizing electricity with a 63.1% sustainable power mix. Based on this data, the global bitcoin mining industry’s sustainable electricity mix has improved marginally to 59.9% and remains one of the most sustainable industries globally.” 

Moreover, advancements in energy technology, such as energy-efficient mining hardware and innovative cooling systems, have further contributed to the sustainability of Bitcoin mining. These developments not only reduce energy consumption but also extend the lifespan of mining equipment, minimizing the environmental footprint of the industry as a whole.

Returning to the Bitcoin Mining Council's report:

“Year-on-year it is estimated that the global Bitcoin Network’s technological efficiency grew by 24%, from 21.1 EH per gigawatt (GW) in H1 2022 to 26.1 EH per GW in H1 2023.”

Financing Green Energy Initiatives

Beyond mitigating its own environmental impact, Bitcoin mining is also driving significant investments in renewable energy infrastructure worldwide. The profitability of Bitcoin mining has incentivized the development of renewable energy projects in regions with abundant natural resources.

The report by the Green Africa Mining Alliance (GAMA) titled "Energy & Bitcoin in Africa" expands on this concept:

“Minigrids can become sustainable, especially in their crucial initial phase, if they can rely on an anchor customer. Small-sized, specialized bitcoin data centers can provide the initial and ongoing demand for power that makes the initial investment into renewable power infrastructure possible, sustainable and profitable.”

Components of Sustainable Hydro Minigrids

In regions where renewable energy production exceeds local demand, excess energy is often wasted. Bitcoin mining provides a solution by consuming this surplus energy, effectively increasing the efficiency and profitability of renewable energy projects.

In a recent statement to the Washington Examiner, Grant McCarty of the Bitcoin Policy Institute said:

“There are a bunch of parts of Africa that [are] essentially going to be able to electrify, bring grids online … because they are going to be able to use bitcoin miners to purchase energy and then build out an efficient energy grid.”

Harnessing Bitcoin Mining for Renewable Energy: Two Earth-Conscious Initiatives

As an example of the positive environmental impact of Bitcoin, consider Gridless’ initiatives in Kenya. The company describes the general situation as follows:

“With the loosening by the regulatory environment by the Kenyan government for projects under 1MW in recent years, there has been an increase in new mini-grid energy projects all over the country, including solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro.” 

Gridless: Powering Rural Kenya with Bitcoin

Gridless currently operates five Bitcoin mining sites across four countries. Explore two sites in Kenya: the first in Nairobi, showcased in this CNBC video, or join the Bitcoin DADA team as they visit another site in Murang’a:

OceanBit: Mining Bitcoin with Ocean Power

On the other hand, OceanBit tackles a different issue altogether by tapping into the energy from the sea:

“Over 40% of the world’s population live near coastal areas, more than 3 billion people utilize the oceans for their livelihood, and greater than 80% of world trade is achieved using the seas. But the blue economy lacks a clean base load energy source to power their operations.”

Discover how OceanBit utilizes Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and the integral role Bitcoin plays in this entire process through this video:

In a recent Forbes article, the publication described OceanBit’s initiative as:

"By demonstrating that ocean thermal plants can operate efficiently and sustainably, especially when supplemented with bitcoin mining and high-performance computing, OceanBit aims to encourage the adoption of this technology worldwide."

And those are just two examples of how Bitcoin mining provides a positive environmental impact that only continues to improve over time.


While Bitcoin mining remains a high-energy activity, the industry has made significant strides towards reducing its carbon footprint and promoting renewable energy initiatives.

By embracing renewable energy sources and investing in green infrastructure, Bitcoin mining is reshaping the energy landscape and accelerating the transition towards a more sustainable future.

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