Expert Claims Using Renewable Energy Won’t be Able to Mitigate Bitcoin’s Long-Term Power Issues


According to well-respected blockchain specialist Alex de Vries, the mere use of renewable energy will not be able to solve BTC’s ongoing sustainability problems.

In relation to the subject, De Vries recently published his latest findings in a sustainable energy journal called ‘Cell’.

De Vries’ Study Key Findings

  • Bitcoin consumes anywhere between 40-62.3 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy per year.
  • BTC’s annual energy needs exceed the power requirements of smaller European countries such as Hungary (40.3 TWH) and Switzerland (62.1 TWh).
  • The total energy required by the global finance industry lies somewhere around the 650 TWh mark. However, it is worth remembering that this mammoth figure takes into consideration the power utilized by various digital entities such as data centers, bank branches and ATMs.
  • As per some of the data cited by De Vries in his study, the world’s data centers on an average consumed around 194 TWh in 2014. This number, as per some experts, will rise by 3 percent (to 200 TWh) by the end of next year (2020).
  • Out of the total energy consumed by the finance industry each year, Bitcoin mining facilities apparently account for nearly 20 percent (40 TWh) of this electricity usage.

More on the Matter

In addition to all of the data that has been presented above, it is also worth adding that in his report, De Vries states that Bitcoin’s tx carbon footprint far outweighs the footprint of all non-cash banking based transactions. To be more specific, he claims that while Bitcoin consumes anywhere between 491.4 kWh to 765.4 kWh per transaction, traditional non-cash transactions just utilize a meagre 0.4 kWh of energy.

In all, it is worth remembering that Bitcoin’s total carbon footprint checks in anywhere between 19.0 to 29.6 million metric tons of CO2 every year— a figure that is quite hefty to say the least.

Final Take

In rounding off this piece, it is worth adding that with BTC mining equipment becoming more and more readily available with each passing day, it feels as though renewable energy will be largely insufficient in fixing many of the flagship cryptocoin's existing energy problems.

As part of a long-term solution, de Vries has proposed the use of alternative, less energy intensive consensus mechanisms such as the PoS (Proof of Stake) protocol in place of Bitcoin’s existing Proof of Work (PoW) mechanism (so as to allay some of the above stated problems to a small degree).

Lastly, it is worth pointing out that in 2018 de Vries had published a piece called “Bitcoin’s Growing Energy Problem,” which claimed that BTC could very easily be using more than half of the world’s total energy supply by the end of 2018— a prediction that has not come true by any stretch of the imagination.

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