Life Cycle Assessment of Bitcoin Mining

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Resumé

This study estimates the environmental impact of mining Bitcoin, the most well-known blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and contributes to the discussion on the technology’s supposedly large energy consumption and carbon footprint. The lack of a robust methodological framework and of accurate data on key factors determining Bitcoin’s impact have so far been the main obstacles in such an assessment. This study applied the well-established Life Cycle Assessment methodology to an in-depth analysis of drivers of past and future environmental impacts of the Bitcoin mining network. It was found that, in 2018, the Bitcoin network consumed 31.29 TWh with a carbon footprint of 17.29 MtCO2-eq, an estimate that is in the lower end of the range of results from previous studies. The main drivers of such impact were found to be the geographical distribution of miners and the efficiency of the mining equipment. In contrast to previous studies, it was found that the service life, production, and end-of-life of such equipment had only a minor contribution to the total impact, and that while the overall hashrate is expected to increase, the energy consumption and environmental footprint per TH mined is expected to decrease.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEnvironmental Science & Technology
Vol/bind53
Udgave nummer23
Sider (fra-til)13598-13606
ISSN0013-936X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 20 nov. 2019

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Carbon footprint
Environmental impact
Life cycle
carbon footprint
Energy utilization
life cycle
Geographical distribution
Mining equipment
Miners
environmental impact
Service life
geographical distribution
footprint
methodology
energy consumption
Electronic money

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title = "Life Cycle Assessment of Bitcoin Mining",
abstract = "This study estimates the environmental impact of mining Bitcoin, the most well-known blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and contributes to the discussion on the technology’s supposedly large energy consumption and carbon footprint. The lack of a robust methodological framework and of accurate data on key factors determining Bitcoin’s impact have so far been the main obstacles in such an assessment. This study applied the well-established Life Cycle Assessment methodology to an in-depth analysis of drivers of past and future environmental impacts of the Bitcoin mining network. It was found that, in 2018, the Bitcoin network consumed 31.29 TWh with a carbon footprint of 17.29 MtCO2-eq, an estimate that is in the lower end of the range of results from previous studies. The main drivers of such impact were found to be the geographical distribution of miners and the efficiency of the mining equipment. In contrast to previous studies, it was found that the service life, production, and end-of-life of such equipment had only a minor contribution to the total impact, and that while the overall hashrate is expected to increase, the energy consumption and environmental footprint per TH mined is expected to decrease.",
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Life Cycle Assessment of Bitcoin Mining. / Köhler, Susanne; Pizzol, Massimo.

I: Environmental Science & Technology, Bind 53, Nr. 23, 20.11.2019, s. 13598-13606.

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

TY - JOUR

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AU - Pizzol, Massimo

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N2 - This study estimates the environmental impact of mining Bitcoin, the most well-known blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and contributes to the discussion on the technology’s supposedly large energy consumption and carbon footprint. The lack of a robust methodological framework and of accurate data on key factors determining Bitcoin’s impact have so far been the main obstacles in such an assessment. This study applied the well-established Life Cycle Assessment methodology to an in-depth analysis of drivers of past and future environmental impacts of the Bitcoin mining network. It was found that, in 2018, the Bitcoin network consumed 31.29 TWh with a carbon footprint of 17.29 MtCO2-eq, an estimate that is in the lower end of the range of results from previous studies. The main drivers of such impact were found to be the geographical distribution of miners and the efficiency of the mining equipment. In contrast to previous studies, it was found that the service life, production, and end-of-life of such equipment had only a minor contribution to the total impact, and that while the overall hashrate is expected to increase, the energy consumption and environmental footprint per TH mined is expected to decrease.

AB - This study estimates the environmental impact of mining Bitcoin, the most well-known blockchain-based cryptocurrency, and contributes to the discussion on the technology’s supposedly large energy consumption and carbon footprint. The lack of a robust methodological framework and of accurate data on key factors determining Bitcoin’s impact have so far been the main obstacles in such an assessment. This study applied the well-established Life Cycle Assessment methodology to an in-depth analysis of drivers of past and future environmental impacts of the Bitcoin mining network. It was found that, in 2018, the Bitcoin network consumed 31.29 TWh with a carbon footprint of 17.29 MtCO2-eq, an estimate that is in the lower end of the range of results from previous studies. The main drivers of such impact were found to be the geographical distribution of miners and the efficiency of the mining equipment. In contrast to previous studies, it was found that the service life, production, and end-of-life of such equipment had only a minor contribution to the total impact, and that while the overall hashrate is expected to increase, the energy consumption and environmental footprint per TH mined is expected to decrease.

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KW - Life Cycle Assessment

KW - Carbon footprint

KW - environmental impact

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KW - Blockchain

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