As concerns about global water security intensify due to climate change, Bitcoin’s water usage has soared dramatically, escalating by 166% from 2020 to 2021. The article investigates this surge and its potential repercussions, shedding light on solutions to address this mounting issue.
Bitcoin Mining’s Environmental Impact:
Exploring the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, the article highlights a notable case involving Greenidge Generation’s alleged discharge of hot water into New York’s Seneca Lake. Despite global attention, the water usage of the Bitcoin mining network has been underreported, focusing mainly on energy consumption, carbon footprint, and electronic waste generation.
Quantifying Bitcoin’s Water Footprint:
Detailed insights into the water footprint of Bitcoin mining are provided, revealing the complex relationship between energy consumption and water usage. The process of Bitcoin mining, akin to a numeric guessing game, demands substantial energy and water resources. The competitive nature of mining, with millions of devices globally vying for rewards, results in significant electricity consumption (16.2 GW as of March 2023) and water usage.
Direct and Indirect Water Consumption:
Bitcoin mining requires water directly for cooling systems and indirectly through the generation of electricity. The article differentiates between water withdrawal and water consumption, emphasizing the challenge in obtaining accurate data on water consumption factors in mining activities.
Indirect Water Footprint Assessment:
By utilizing data from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), the article demonstrates the 166% increase in Bitcoin’s water footprint from 2020 to 2021, attributing this surge to various factors, including shifts in mining locations. Kazakhstan’s significant contribution to the network’s water footprint, despite representing a smaller share of computational power, highlights the complexities of the situation.
Projections and Impact:
Estimating the potential water footprint of Bitcoin in 2023, the article suggests a staggering annual equivalent of 2,237 GL. It outlines the water footprint per transaction, emphasizing the substantial water consumption associated with processing Bitcoin transactions.
Addressing the Issue:
To mitigate Bitcoin’s burgeoning water footprint, the article suggests potential solutions, including immersion cooling, alternative power sources, and software modifications. These changes could significantly reduce the network’s water usage, paving the way for a more sustainable approach to Bitcoin mining.
The evolving water footprint of Bitcoin mining poses significant challenges amidst global concerns over water scarcity. By understanding the complexities of Bitcoin’s water consumption, this analysis aims to drive discussions towards more responsible and sustainable mining practices.
Alex de Vries at the VU Amsterdam School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands has calculated that mining – the computational process that secures the bitcoin network – uses between 8.6 and 35.1 billion litres of water per year in the US alone. He says that bitcoin used 1.6 trillion litres of water globally in 2021, and expects this to rise to 2.3 trillion litres this year. Broken down per transaction, that means a single bitcoin trade consumes 16,000 litres of water – enough to fill a small swimming pool. This is “increasingly hard to defend”, says de Vries.
Source : Cell.com