Bitcoin mining more damaging to the environment after ban in China, study says

The Chinese bitcoin mining ban that took place in the middle of last year was undoubtedly a major blow to the space. It saw the hash rate of the region once called the mining capital of the world crumble to near zero as miners had to shut down their operations. The reason for this from the Chinese government came down to concerns about electricity consumption and environmental impact.

When the miners left China, they had to relocate elsewhere and buy electricity for their mining companies, which can be quite energy-intensive. According to a new report, these new energy sources mainly come from non-renewable sources compared to what the miners in China were using. This means that the energy impact of bitcoin mining has increased in recent months.

Bitcoin mining’s carbon footprint just got worse

It has been less than a year since China issued a ban on bitcoin mining and the effects are already being felt in the energy field. The common thinking after the ban was that miners would focus on more renewable energy sources to avoid a recurrence of the region’s problems. However, a new study has shown that this is not the case. On the contrary, the environmental impact of bitcoin mining has only gotten worse.

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China is a country known for its wide use of hydropower, a renewable energy source, and the miners in the country had used a significant amount of renewable energy for their operations. Even then, the carbon footprint of mining activities was still enough to cause stench. The Joule diary has revealed that miners have not necessarily increased their renewable energy consumption.

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The research shows that the amount of renewable energy used by bitcoin miners has fallen since the ban. At its peak, this number had risen to 42% in August. But since then, just seven months later, the use of renewable energy in mining has fallen to just 25%.

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Bitcoin mining continues to produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide annually. With more than 65 megatons of carbon dioxide produced annually, bitcoin mining is less green than ever. By comparison, the entire country of Greece reportedly produced less than 57 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2019. This means that miners produce more CO2 than entire countries.

Many of the miners who have left China have now moved to countries where energy resources are largely produced by burning “coal”, which creates more pollution. This new study shows that mining is now less beneficial to the environment. Carbon intensity has already increased by 17%.

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