Cryptocurrency mining could be contributing to climate change
MUNICH — New research from the Technical University of Munich has found that the amount of computing power needed to mine bitcoin produces roughly the same amount of carbon emissions as a major city like Las Vegas.
Bitcoin miners have to solve many complex mathematical problems to generate bitcoins, according to the study.
This process requires large amounts of electrical power, in turn increasing carbon emissions.
The scientists determined that the virtual currency consumed about 46 Terawatt hours of energy as of November 2018.
This is equivalent to around 5,650,411 tonnes of coal."
They wanted to find out where the cryptocurrency miners were located, how much energy was consumed and how much carbon emissions were produced as a result.
The study found that 68 percent of bitcoin mining takes place in Asia, with 17 percent taking place in Europe and 15 percent in North America.
Researchers estimate that mining cryptocurrency creates more than 22 million tons of carbon emissions per year.
This is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon emissions produced by developing nations such as Sri Lanka or major world cities such as Vienna or Las Vegas.
In a Technical University of Munich press release, lead author of the study and TUM PhD candidate, Christian Stoll explained that there were bigger factors contributing to climate change.
He added, "However, the carbon footprint is big enough to make it worth discussing the possibility of regulating cryptocurrency mining in regions where power generation is especially carbon-intensive."