Under the trend of “carbon neutrality”, the energy consumption caused by Bitcoin mining is getting more and more attention.

On April 6, scholars from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University published an article entitled “China Bitcoin Block The paper of the policy assessment of carbon emissions and sustainability of chain operation. The paper stated that without any policy intervention, the annual energy consumption of China’s Bitcoin blockchain is expected to reach a peak of 296.59 TWh in 2024, generating 130.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which will exceed the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the Czech Republic and Qatar. Total emissions.

At the same time, in China, the carbon emissions of Bitcoin mining will be ranked in the top ten among 182 prefecture-level cities and 42 major industrial sectors in China. It accounts for 5.41% of the carbon emissions of China’s power generation, and the carbon emissions caused by the industry’s per capita GDP will also reach 10.77 kg/USD.

Professor Guan Dabo from the Department of Earth System Sciences of Tsinghua University, one of the authors of the paper, told the news that from a macro-social and economic perspective, the Bitcoin industry has an impact on the existing financial system and society. The advancement of the process is limited. He emphasized that, like Bitcoin or other financial products, and even all emerging industries in the future, they must have the green attributes of carbon reduction, low carbon and even zero carbon.

Three types of Bitcoin mining regulatory policy evaluation

The paper points out that Chinese miners account for more than 75% of the Bitcoin network’s computing power. With appropriate interventions and feasible policies, intensive Bitcoin mining will likely undermine China’s emission reduction efforts. Source of global mining pool distribution:

Global mining pool distribution source: “China’s Bitcoin Blockchain Operation Carbon Emissions and Sustainability Policy Assessment”

The research team considered three Bitcoin policies and conducted four scenario assessments.

Among them, the benchmark scenario (BM) is set as that the Bitcoin industry continues to operate with minimal policy intervention, the market access is assumed to be 100%, and according to Bitcoin mineThe actual area statistics of the farm, assuming that 40% of the mines in the baseline scenario are located in coal areas. Under the market access (MA) scenario, inefficient profitable miners are prohibited from entering the Chinese Bitcoin mining market. In the site remediation (SR) plan, mines in coal areas are persuaded to move to water-rich areas and use electricity for mining in the area during high water periods. In the carbon tax (CT) scheme, the carbon tax is tripled, severely penalizing the high carbon emission behavior of Bitcoin mining.

The research results show that among the three policy options, the site improvement program has the most significant effect, and the per capita GDP carbon emissions of the Bitcoin industry can be reduced to 6 kg/USD.

This conclusion also coincides with the Inner Mongolia government’s announcement of the withdrawal of virtual currency mining.

On February 25, in order to complete the energy consumption dual control goals and tasks of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Development and Reform Commission issued the The Five “Energy Consumption Dual Control Target Tasks Several Safeguard Measures (Draft for Comment)” proposes that virtual currency mining projects will be fully cleaned and shut down and all exited before the end of April 2021. In addition, new virtual currency mining projects are strictly prohibited.

“Now the miners in Inner Mongolia are crying, and I can answer 10 calls a day to ask if I have a load.” A mine owner in Sichuan also commented on the news recently. The reporter revealed.

Can Bitcoin mining be green and sustainable?

Li Lianxuan, chief researcher of Ouke Cloud Chain Research Institute, proposed that the Bitcoin mining machine itself basically does not work. Carbon emission is mainly a matter of the composition of energy. The paper divides the energy structure of Bitcoin into coal-based and water-based energy, and judges that it belongs to carbon-based and water-based energy according to the distribution of mining pools. But the mining pool data source BTC.com can only roughly tell whether it belongs to domestic or foreign mining pools, and cannot distinguish between carbon-based and water-based.

Guan Dabo explained to the news that in actual operation, each mining machine contributes its own computing power to a specific mining pool nearby, and they will not block separately Broadcast, there is no way to get the location of all individual miners. Therefore, the research team made calculations based on the geographic location information of each mining pool in China. And most of the electricity used by local mining comes from the grid, so carbon emissions are calculated according to the proportion of power generation energy.

“Based on the experience of people in our industry, it is estimated that the mining machines connected to the power grid only account for allLess than 40% of the network computing power. The specifics are not clear, so you have to investigate and study in detail. This is a professional question. “A mine owner in Sichuan told a news reporter.

He believes that in the future, when hydropower is the mainstay, mining can convert waste water into Real economic value, and enter the social circulation link, but also increase employment.

Another worker in the mining machine manufacturing industry also mentioned to the news that the use of Bitcoin The main problem is “abandoning water and electricity”, that is, electricity that cannot be used for the time being and can only be wasted. For example, the hydroelectric power station in Sichuan, China, and the thermal power in northwestern China. The local electricity cannot be connected to the Internet and is generally poor. Mining can bring important local resources. Electricity revenue, fiscal and tax revenue and employment in the service industry.

Guan Dabo pointed out that there are indeed problems of abandoning electricity, abandoning wind, and abandoning water. , The majority of mining must be electricity from the grid. There must be water abandonment problems in Yunguichuan, but depending on the overall situation, 40% of the electricity used by mining machines comes from coal combustion for power generation.

He also said that in addition to the direct electricity consumption, there is also a part of the energy consumption or carbon emissions of mining, which is generated during the rapid replacement of the mining machine. The components of the mining machine are metal and some siliceous materials. Processing, indirect loss, and potential disposal of e-waste that have a huge impact on the environment.

” There will definitely be some driving GDP, but this amount How old is it? Electricity bills are definitely feeding some power plants in the region, and there will be some positive effects,” Guan Dabo said. “The taxation is rather vague, and I am not sure about the specifics. “

He suggested that because climate change is a global public good, responsibility needs the support of all walks of life and countries. So new industries, like Bitcoin, or the future All emerging industries must have green attributes such as carbon reduction, low-carbonization or even zero-carbonization.

“The emerging industries without carbon neutral attributes will be unsustainable. The industry is contrary to achieving national and even global climate goals. “Guan Dabo said.