Bitcoin mining has become one of the most energy-consuming activities in the crypto sector. While at first, anyone could mine with a simple mining rig, now miners need expensive computational power to withstand the complex mathematical equations that need to be solved to complete the data set.
Unfortunately, investors who just learned how to buy Bitcoin on Binance or other exchanges aren’t aware of the impact of the ledger’s requirements to function on the environment. A study from 2020 has shown that Bitcoin mining consumed the equivalent energy of Austria or Portugal in a year, which is only the beginning of mining requirements. In the future, when halvings will continue, it will become even more challenging to mine.
But besides the energy used for mining, this activity isn’t that beneficial for the economy either, considering it can lead to increased bills in a certain area. Therefore, miners are looking for solutions to combat energy waste, and one of them succeeded.
How one Bitcoin miner made satoshis with heat from mining
Recently, someone on Twitter under the Rev.Hodl account name made a post on how a Bitcoin miner can be used to dry the laundry and incentivize the owner with satoshis. The cost of this setup is less than $100, and it pays back in time for the power used to dry clothes. The user also showed how portable space heaters, food dehydrators, and hydro-cooled machines can leverage the advantages of mining to reuse energy. Another experiment in Texas by a Bitcoin mine approached using ASIC miners to heat small swimming pools, reaching a heating capacity of 17,200 kcal/h with low noise levels.
The potential of this finding could save the environment
ASICs and GPUs produce a lot of heating, which is currently looking at providing solutions for powering up other tools. For example, miners could continue their activities while the heat from their computational rigs could heat buildings or warm up greenhouses in agriculture. This would not only offset heating costs but would also make mining beneficial for multiple individuals.
Moreover, the heat from mining cryptocurrencies could be paired with capturing and distribution systems to maximize the effects of the heat. There were cases in which people in colder climates used Bitcoin mining as a way to heat up the house while earning coins.
Why crypto mining needs to be changed
Battling climate change concerns isn’t easy when an increasing part of the population actively contributes to it. Gas emissions are already detrimental to people’s health, and if crypto mining adds to that, there’s no way back to saving the planet and stopping temperatures from rising.
There have been some actions regarding mitigating sustainability in the crypto market.
Ethereum, for example, switched from the PoW consensus mechanism to PoS, leading to a reduction in the network’s energy consumption by about 99.95%. At the same time, an emerging number of cryptocurrencies are starting off as sustainable by leveraging the power of the sun or
the wind to employ similar features as Bitcoin, for example.
However, there’s a need for better mobilization worldwide. The White House Office recently stated that crypto production in the US accounts for up to 0.3% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from coal burning, gasses and fossil fuels used to generate electricity. In regards to carbon pollution, mining cryptocurrency produced 179 million metric tons worldwide.
This contributed to the rise of pollution, noise and local impacts, which opposes the country’s efforts to achieve net-zero carbon pollution.
Are sustainable cryptocurrencies better?
While Ethereum significantly changed its impact on the environment, the amount of energy consumed is still considerable, along with Bitcoin. We’re left wondering if at least green digital coins are any good, considering they’re based on sustainable processes.
Some of the newer cryptocurrencies have been created to mitigate sustainability. For example, SolarCoin incentivized users with solar coins to generate Megawatts from solar energy. This requires people to prove generating power, but the platform is working on a more efficient and automated system.
There’s also PowerLedger, whose network uses different alternatives for energy usage, such as energy trading and clean energy tracking. It uses a distributed system that aims to create a stable, flexible power outcome for more countries, as it actively operates in ten different areas worldwide.
But what makes a coin sustainable?
Ensuring a cryptocurrency is sustainable must meet a few criteria to genuinely contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of blockchains. First, it should switch to renewable energies instead of regular electricity to decrease the impact on nature. This usually means leaving PoW behind for more efficient solutions like PoS or PoH.
Some cryptocurrencies have also integrated the pre-mining process in which there’s a limited coin supply in circulation in regard to global contexts. Initially, this might require a centralized approach, but after that, a decentralized system will be used to verify transactions with miners’ help.
Finally, there’s also the option to introduce carbon credits within the incentivization process. Companies working in the crypto industry could purchase carbon credits from one another to minimize the impact of gas emissions. At the same time, businesses selling green credits are more inclined to switch to sustainable energy to complete their brand image and win customers’ trust.
Even cryptocurrencies can be the suspect of greenwashing, a frequent practice in the corporate world where companies don’t actually believe in sustainability or approach it simply but adequately wasn’t to target another increasing audience with the purpose of profits. It may be more difficult for users to check if cryptocurrencies are actually more sustainable than others. Still, at least they’re not facing a centralized industry that is more difficult to put down.
Bitcoin miners are threatened by the massive energy consumption required to complete mathematical equations. But many are finding solutions to improve that, and one of them explained how the energy from Bitcoin mining can be used to dry clothes. At the same time, crypto businesses are emerging to mitigate the use of mining energy for real-life purposes.