31 Jan 2022

The carbon intensity of bitcoin mining is lower than the global average

CoinShare’s latest research report, "The Bitcoin Mining Network", provides new data on bitcoin mining's energy consumption and carbon intensity. The report found that the industry's carbon intensity is significantly below the global average. 
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Source: CoinShares,
The report estimates the relative contributions of coal, gas, hydro, nuclear and wind in the bitcoin mining industry at 35%, 24%, 21%, 11% and 4%, respectively.The report found the carbon intensity of the bitcoin mining industry to be 466 gCO2/kWh, lower than the global average of 492 gCO2/kWh.In fact, some of the miners operate with a negative carbon intensity, as they mine with stranded natural gas that would otherwise be flared. The report shows how 1 unit of direct carbon emissions from this type of mining indirectly reduces carbon emissions by a unit of 3.7.The 35% coal share of electricity generation for bitcoin miners is trending down, but still generates the vast majority of emissions (76%).The natural gas share has increased lately since many miners have moved to the US, where a large percentage of the electricity is generated by natural gas. Natural gas generates approximately 24% of hashrate but only 21% of emissions.Another popular energy source for bitcoin mining is hydro, which powers 21% of the bitcoin network against a 16% global average. Hydropower is an entirely location-dependent energy source. Therefore, bitcoin miners scour the globe for pockets of cheap, underutilized hydropower.
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