A common objection to bitcoin has long been that a lot of computer power, and thus energy consumption, is needed to keep the blockchain network running through mining.
Recently, a study showed that bitcoin mining can be a contributing factor to the earth’s temperature increasing more than two degrees, a figure many experts say is critical to the earth’s long-term sustainability. However, the study received heavy criticism from people in the crypto world.
Another study from December, however, showed that 77 percent of all bitcoin mining uses renewable energy and that bitcoin, in fact, does little meaningful harm to the environment.
The opinions seem to be different, to say the least.
Energy consumption decreases
However, data from the crypto analysis site Digiconomist now shows that bitcoin’s energy consumption has fallen sharply. Since November, the site’s “Bitcoin energy consumption index” shows that consumption has decreased from about 73 terawatt hours (TWh) per year to about 47 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. That is a decline of 35 percent.
One possible reason for the decline may be that the difficulty level for bitcoin, i.e. a measure of how difficult it is to find a new block on the blockchain, has declined since November. This is shown by data from the site Blockchain.
The fact that the difficulty level has gone down may, in turn, be due to a decreasing number of miners. If that were the case, it would mean that there is no longer as high competition for confirming the blocks on the bitcoin blockchain and that it, therefore, requires less computing power, and thus energy consumption, to mine bitcoin.