Climate neutral by 2024 thanks to methane

Bitcoin’s critics regularly cite the high energy consumption that must be applied to the crypto-methane’s PoW process. This is now to change within not even 2 years: By 2024, a significant improvement in the energy balance is to be achieved by means of burning methane. However, this does not change the fundamental problem of the enormous energy requirements for Bitcoin mining; rather, the forecast is based on a complicated calculation.

According to statistics from Cambridge University, the estimated energy consumption for BTC mining is around 95 terrawatts. This is undeniably quite a lot; what makes it even worse is the fact that a large portion still comes from fossil fuels. By increasing the share of renewable energy, the pendulum should swing more in the direction of climate neutrality.

Turning waste gas into electricity

While the rate of CO₂-neutral Bitcoin mining was still at 41 percent in March 2021, the current level is around 62 percent, and in the coming year this share is to be increased to as much as 72 percent. How? By using waste energy, which is operationally generated, for example, when using gas from natural gas extraction or refining. We are all familiar with pictures of gas flares that simply burn the “waste gas” unused. Feeding it into the power grid is usually unprofitable and too costly.

This is where Bitcoin miners come in, locating next to biogas plants or wastewater treatment plants to convert the waste gas turned into electricity by incinerators or gas turbines into BTC. The odor emissions common at these sites are irrelevant in a mining farm. Another trump card miners can cite is that this conversion burns methane, which is harmful to the climate – an emissions saving that pays into the miners’ climate account and thus makes Bitcoin almost green.

Label fraud?

Despite all the whitewashing, it is important to remember that bitcoin mining still consumes a huge amount of energy due to the complex PoW process. Net zero emissions can therefore be equated with climate neutrality. Especially in view of the ongoing gas crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, both the gas and the electricity could be used more sensibly. Critics will not shy away from emphasizing this point either.

Bitcoin competitor Ethereum does not have these problems now that it has successfully merged. Due to the more energy-saving PoS process, Ether can reduce its energy consumption by 99.95 percent in the future. BTC cannot and will not follow suit here: The security concerns are too great. In the Bitcoin universe, people remain convinced that only the PoW procedure provides a sufficiently secure mechanism for reaching consensus.

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