The cryptocurrency craze has been quiet as of late and critics have many reasons to raise their eyebrows at the volatile trend. Some claiming it's the biggest scam of the century or merely a fad, where others are saying that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren't sustainable or able to compete with currencies (aka, FIAT). Regardless, there is one thing that even the most diehard cryptocurrency investor can admit: bitcoin mining is bad for the environment.
Bitcoin and a few other currencies are designed to become progressively more difficult to mine as output increases. The first few coins could've been mined from a single computer; now it takes vast and complicated networks to do the same.
The Mining Impact... Still Real
Not unlike real-life mining, it has deadly effects on the environment.
In 2017, Bitcoin mining used 36 terawatt hours of energy - more electricity than countries like Ireland or Uruguay. Experts estimate that in 2020, it will take three times the world's current electrical output to sustain the Bitcoin infrastructure alone. In the long term, cryptocurrency mining poses a significant threat to the environment.
Naturally, it should be time to start looking at green energy for cryptocurrency mining. There's already plenty of this going on outside the blockchain world - solar power, windmills, hydroelectricity, biomass, and even nuclear power. Cryptocurrency miners should consider similar options, especially considering that most other industries are already slow to adopt alternative solutions.
Take GEAR as an example--a cryptocurrency mining network branding itself as "the world's first closed loop Green Energy and Renewables focused network" and who already has many top-level proponents involved, including an advisory board with Jim Rogers, Stan Bharti, and even Larry King. King shared,
"GEAR will incubate and nurture the cryptocurrency sector by removing the need conventional fossil fuels and will further promote and fund the use of Green Energy and Renewables by utilizing the rapidly emerging cryptocurrency sector to finance large-scale clean energy operations," he said. "The GEAR has frankly solved the infinite energy equation."
Okay, awesome. Makes sense, especially being that fossil fuels provide over 80% of energy in the United States. However, what's more interesting is the foundational ecosystem that has been built in four key areas: self-financing network, cleaning out proof-of-work systems, funding green energy and renewable innovation, and distributing sustainable green energy into communities.
There are two areas I'm particularly excited about:
(1) with cleaning out the proof-of-work systems, they'll support the mining community with green energy and plans to distribute its tokens to promote environmentally friendly transactions. This is a powerful focus that I suspect many crypto companies will follow-suit in, especially as it supports green longevity.
(2) by distributing sustainable green energy into communities, they'll use solar, tidal, biomass, wind, and other forms of renewable energy, in hopes of a higher adoption on such forms of energy.
Seeking Alternative Solutions
Bitcoin has specifically been compared to marijuana cultivation and data centers. As you can imagine, both of those industries drew concerns of their anticipated, large power draws. Where data center engineers and marijuana farmers have successfully managed a reduction of power, there's no "easy button" for the energy waste that is a fundamental result of Bitcoin mining.
Current and rising cryptocurrency companies need to consider their long-term implications and more importantly, how technology can support a more energy-efficient path forward, especially if they expect cryptocurrency to be here for the long haul--and these initiatives will help provide a greener future for crypto enthusiasts and skeptics alike.