July 18, 2022 · less than 3 min read
Bitcoin just gets dirtier and dirtier.
Pouring fuel on the fire
It’s no secret that Bitcoin mining is one of the world’s dirtiest industries. According to DigiEconomist, a single Bitcoin transaction uses up enough energy to power a single US household for about 50 days. Over a year, the full operation of Bitcoin requires a similar amount of energy as the entirety of Argentina – enough to totally negate the carbon reductions made by the rollout of electric vehicles.
And Texas is feeling it. Straining under the weight of a punishing heatwave, Texas is seeing record levels of energy demand. And although some crypto firms have agreed to stop mining until the wave has passed, so that the grid can deliver electricity to people who need it, the state is facing an uphill struggle when it comes to meeting current energy demands.
A heated debate
The electrical load crypto miners are expected to add to the Texas grid over just the next four years represents nearly a third of the grid’s current maximum capacity. At the moment, that grid can provide a total of 92 gigawatts; in five years, crypto operations will account for 27 of them, and this figure is only growing.
According to Joshua Rhodes, a Research Associate at the University of Texas, this future is “astronomically impossible. [It] would put too much stress on the system too fast. We barely have the power plants to cover today”. He’s not the first to raise the sustainability of crypto mining. Even Elon Musk has been critical of crypto’s sustainability record.
Crypto might be a big industry, but finding enough renewable energy to power the sector is proving to be a persistent problem. From making energy bills for locals more expensive, to using up increasing capacity on already straining systems, crypto’s energy usage needs a long-term solution and fast.
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