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Bitcoin Thirst for Water Power Debunked: New Studies Highlight Eco-Friendly Mining

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • A new study claims Bitcoin mining consumed nearly 1,600 billion liters of water in 2021, potentially contributing to global water shortage.
  • Despite criticism, Bitcoin mining is becoming more sustainable with innovations like hydro-cooling farms and waste gas flare usage.
  • Research shows Bitcoin mining could be beneficial for power grids, enhancing flexibility and better integrating renewable energy sources.
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More salacious headlines and fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) have emerged this week over Bitcoin mining energy and water usage. A new study and mainstream media reports claim that BTC transactions are causing a global water shortage. 

According to the BBC, a new study by Alex de Vries of VU Amsterdam claims every Bitcoin transaction uses “enough water to fill a backyard swimming pool.”  

Bitcoin Water Usage Under Spotlight

The outlandish claim stems from a hypothetical calculation of the amount of water needed to cool BTC mining rigs across the globe. 

The report and crypto critic de Vries suggested that Bitcoin mining was contributing to the global water shortage. Bitcoin consumed nearly 1,600 billion liters, also called gigalitres, of water in 2021. It could consume as much as 2,200 billion liters in 2023, according to the study. 

So, in addition to Bitcoin creating the climate crisis, as Senator Elizabeth Warren believes, it will now cause everyone to die of thirst. 

Where water stress will be highest by 20240. Source: World Resource Institute via The Economist / Statista
Where water stress will be highest by 20240. Source: World Resource Institute via The Economist / Statista

The reports are misleading because water is not destroyed when used for industrial cooling purposes. Additionally, Bitcoin mining operations often use excess power and repurposed water from hydroelectric facilities. 

Moreover, Bitcoin mining is becoming more sustainable thanks to innovations such as hydro-cooling farms and waste gas flare usage.

Read more: Simplifying the Bitcoin Whitepaper: A Comprehensive Guide

The truth is that things are quickly improving on the Bitcoin energy usage front from an environmental perspective. 

According to a study by Cornell University, wind and solar projects can profit from Bitcoin mining during their pre-commercial development phases.

The scientists said that setting up mining operations could reduce the environmental impact of cryptocurrency. Additionally, it could also provide revenue that could be reinvested in future renewable energy projects.

Bitcoin Mining Better for Power Grids 

Another research paper has used case studies to determine that Bitcoin miners can be beneficial for power grids.  

A paper penned by former Texas grid president and industry experts revealed that Bitcoin mining is a “critical tool” for clean energy and balancing the grid.

The research stated that mining’s inherent interruptibility and swift load response capabilities could enhance power grid flexibility. This would enable grids to better integrate variable renewable energy sources and load balancing.  

It was also recently reported that Bitcoin clean energy usage had exceeded 50%.

So it’s not all doom and gloom. And no, Bitcoin is not on a fast track to destroy the planet. But those with agendas will keep pushing them. 

Top crypto platforms in the US | February 2024

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Martin Young
Martin Young is a seasoned cryptocurrency journalist and editor with over 7 years of experience covering the latest news and trends in the digital asset space. He is passionate about making complex blockchain, fintech, and macroeconomics concepts understandable for mainstream audiences.   Martin has been featured in top finance, technology, and crypto publications including BeInCrypto, CoinTelegraph, NewsBTC, FX Empire, and Asia Times. His articles provide an in-depth analysis of...
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