According to new research, a single bitcoin transaction generates 272 grams of e-waste.
Alex de Vries, founder of financial analysis platform Digiconomist and researcher at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research Christian Stoll, says the waste from crypto transactions is comparable to the small IT equipment waste produced by countries like the Netherlands.
During 2019, the bitcoin network processed 120 million transactions, while traditional payment service providers processed approximately 539 billion transactions.
“Bitcoin’s annual e-waste production increased to 30.7 metric kilotons by May 2021,” claims the researcher, which could increase to 64.4 metric kilotons of waste at the peak price levels seen earlier this year.
He says demand for mining hardware is disrupting the semiconductor supply chain, which is currently facing a global shortage caused by the growing need for the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the US-China trade war and a drought in Taiwan.
Another issue is the use of ASIC chips, which are specifically designed to mine crypto transactions and have made CPUs and GPUs obsolete; However, as technology develops, these single-purpose ASIC chips quickly become useless as miners demand increasingly faster machines.
“The lifetime of bitcoin mining equipment is limited to only 1.29 years”, estimates the research.
These issues are likely to escalate as time goes on, unless the bitcoin mining process is “completely replaced with a more sustainable alternative”.
One of those options is “proof of part” rather than “proof of work,” which is the process used to validate transactions.
“The first miner to find PoW” [proof of work] which meets the predetermined conditions, broadcasts the block to all nodes of the network. Receiving nodes express acceptance of the new block by building on top of it”, the paper states.
Calculating the “proof of work” of miners requires enormous amounts of energy to collect crypto currency, but the “proof of part” requirement is significantly less.
The Ethereum blockchain, which powers the ether currency as well as other technologies such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), is transitioning to “proof of stake” technology – although the change has yet to take place.
Such a transition is inherently necessary, explained de Vries. Granthshala. “You can power this network with 100 percent renewable energy (which I don’t think is realistic, but let’s consider it purely theoretical), but you’re still left with an unsustainable situation with the potential for electronic waste. Will leave you with a pile. There is no real solution to this.”
He continued that “it would be technically possible to replace proof-of-work mining in bitcoin with a more permanent alternative like Ethereum is planning to do (and many others have already done so). If that ever happens in bitcoin.” If it happens, this currency could also be really sustainable, but currently no one in bitcoin is working on it.”
Ethereum currently consumes more energy as a medium-sized country needs to keep the network safe from malicious users. Unfortunately, that blockchain is powered by fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.
analysis by Cambridge University suggests that the bitcoin network uses more than 121 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually, which would rank it among the top 30 electricity consumers worldwide if it were a country.
“Bitcoin’s energy consumption has more than quadrupled since the start of its last peak in 2017 and is set to worsen as energy inefficiencies are built into bitcoin’s DNA,” said Charles Hoskinson, CEO of major cryptography firm IOHK. ” Granthshala.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /