Bitcoin’s energy consumption ‘equals that of Switzerland’

Bitcoin’s energy consumption ‘equals that of Switzerland’

SOURCE: BBC News DATE: July 3, 2019 SNIP: Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland, a new online tool from the University of Cambridge shows. The tool makes it easier to see how the crypto-currency network’s energy usage compares with other entities. However, one expert argued that it was the crypto-currency’s carbon footprint that really mattered. Currently, the tool estimates that Bitcoin is using around seven gigawatts of electricity, equal to 0.21% of the world’s supply. Over the course of a year, this equates to roughly the same power consumption as Switzerland. In order to “mine” Bitcoin, computers known as mining machines are connected to the crypto-currency network. They are tasked with verifying transactions made by people who send or receive Bitcoin. This process involves solving puzzles. The puzzles aren’t integral to verifying movements of Bitcoin, they simply provide a hurdle to ensure no-one fraudulently edits the global record of all transactions. As a reward for pitching in to this system, miners occasionally receive small amounts of Bitcoin. To make as much money from this process as possible, people often connect large numbers of miners to the network – even entire warehouses full of them. That uses lots of electricity because the miners are more or less constantly working. [D]espite its many proponents, the Bitcoin network has an energy consumption problem. It uses lots of energy despite processing fewer than 100 million financial transactions per year. [T]he number was “completely insignificant” in global terms. The traditional financial industry processes 500 billion transactions per...
Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

Carbon emissions from energy industry rise at fastest rate since 2011

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: Carbon emissions from the global energy industry last year rose at the fastest rate in almost a decade after extreme weather and surprise swings in global temperatures stoked extra demand for fossil fuels. BP’s annual global energy report, an influential review of the market, revealed for the first time that temperature fluctuations are increasing the world’s use of fossil fuels, in spite of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. They also resulted in a second consecutive annual increase for coal use, reversing three years of decline earlier this decade. Carbon emissions climbed by 2% in 2018, faster than any year since 2011, because the demand for energy easily outstripped the rapid rollout of renewable energy. That level of growth in emissions represents the carbon equivalent of driving an extra 400m combustion engine cars onto the world’s roads, said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist. Two-thirds of the world’s energy demand increase was due to higher demand in China, India and the US which was in part due to industrial demand, as well as the “weather effect”. This was spurred by an “outsized” energy appetite in the US which recorded the highest number of days with hotter or colder than average days since the 1950s. “On hot days people turn to their air conditioning and fans, on cold days they turn to their heaters. That has a big impact,” Dale...
Our Efforts to Moderate Extreme Weather Are Fueling a Climate Change ‘Feedback Loop’

Our Efforts to Moderate Extreme Weather Are Fueling a Climate Change ‘Feedback Loop’

SOURCE: Fortune DATE: March 27, 2019 SNIP: A record-smashing heat wave isn’t just a symptom of climate change—in a way, it’s also contributing to it. Efforts to moderate extreme weather—blasting air conditioning or cranking up the heat—in 2018 were one of the major factors behind surging global energy demand, particularly in the U.S., the International Energy Agency said in a report published Tuesday. And that demand is directly linked to record-level energy-linked carbon dioxide emissions last year, even as countries pledged to substantially cut back their carbon output. “In a way, global warming is leading to higher demand for fossil fuels,” says Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Stockholm-based SEB Bank. “Which is kind of uncomfortable.” In 2018, global energy demand rose by 2.3% from the previous year, the fastest pace of growth this decade and a jump seen across every source of energy, from coal to renewables, the Paris-based agency said in its annual Global Energy and CO2 Status...
Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.

Fast-Rising Demand for Air Conditioning Is Adding to Global Warming. The Numbers Are Striking.

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: November 12, 2018 SNIP: Increasing demand for home air conditioning driven by global warming, population growth and rising incomes in developing countries could increase the planet’s temperatures an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The demand is growing so fast that a “radical change” in home-cooling technology will be necessary to neutralize its impact, writes RMI, an energy innovation and sustainability organization. The problem with air-conditioning comes from two sources: the amount of energy used, much of which is still powered by carbon-emitting coal, oil and gas generation, and the leaking of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) coolants, which are short-lived climate pollutants many times more potent than carbon dioxide. Approximately 1.2 billion window-mounted air conditioning units and other small-scale, room-cooling devices are currently in use worldwide. By 2050, the figure is expected to increase to 4.5 billion, according to RMI. Many of today’s air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), coolants that are short-lived climate pollutants that can leak into the atmosphere at the end of an air conditioner’s useful life when the devices are destroyed. HFCs remain in the atmosphere for an average of 14 years and are approximately 1,000 to 3,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Energy demand is the other side of the residential cooling problem. RMI estimates that the amount of energy that will be required to power the 4.5 billion window air conditioners expected by 2050 is equivalent to the current electricity demand of the United States, Germany and Japan combined. Growth in...
Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C

Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C

SOURCE: Nature.com DATE: October 29, 2018 SNIP: Reducing emissions to keep warming below 2 °C is already regarded as a very difficult challenge given the increasing human population and consumption as well as a lack of political will. Then came Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized cashless payment system introduced in early 2009, and it is now accepted by over 100,000 merchants and vendors worldwide. Each transaction paid for with Bitcoin is compiled into a ‘block’ that requires a computationally demanding proof-of-work to be resolved, which in turn uses large amounts of electricity. Globally, ~314.2 billion cashless transactions are carried out every year, of which Bitcoin’s share was ~0.033% in 2017. The environmental concern regarding Bitcoin usage arises from the large carbon footprint for such a small share of global cashless transactions, and the potential for it to be more broadly used under current technologies. Bitcoin usage has experienced an accelerated growth (Supplementary Fig. 1), which is a common pattern during the early adoption of broadly used technologies. Should Bitcoin follow the median growth trend observed in the adoption of several other technologies (Fig. 1b), it could equal the global total of cashless transactions in under 100 years. Yet, the cumulative emissions of such usage growth could fall within the range of emissions likely to warm the planet by 2°C within only 16 years (red line in Fig. 1b). The cumulative emissions of Bitcoin usage will cross the 2°C threshold within 22 years if the current rate is similar to some of the slowest broadly adopted technologies, or within 11 years if adopted at the fastest rate at which other...