Disclaimer: This report is prepared based on published information that SAI believes to be reliable, but SAI does not guarantee the accuracy and completeness of the information contained. The information or opinions expressed in this report do not constitute investment advice to anyone.
Recently, the debate about redefining Bitcoin’s energy waste and causing huge environmental damage has once again aroused people’s attention. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday on Twitter that Tesla has “suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin,” out of concern over “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining. How is the climate problem proportional to Bitcoin?
More than eleven years after its creation, Bitcoin is gradually gaining wider institutional and market recognition. Although constructive criticism is beneficial, we believe that some influential financial research institutions are refuting Bitcoin based on outdated information, incoherent arguments, and flawed analysis.
In this article, we collected publicly available data from multiple channels including investment institution research reports and academic paper. This memo is made by analyzing those data and information.
Bitcoin mining produces less carbon emissions while being more efficient comparing with gold mining, financial system and traditional calculations.
The debate about Bitcoin’s massive carbon emissions and environmental degradation has not reached its goal. According to the analysis below, the result shows that the consumption of Bitcoin mining is less than the goldmining, financial and computer industries.
Ark Investment Management criticized the stereotypes of common Bitcoin myths. Bitcoin’s energy footprint is easily criticized. From the perspective of electricity costs alone, Bitcoin is much more efficient than traditional banks and gold mining on a global scale.According to a recent research, traditional banking consumes 2.34 billion GJ per year, gold mining consumes 500 million GJ per year, while Bitcoin consumes 184 million GJ, which is less than 10% and 40% of traditional banking and gold mining respectively. In addition, the estimated efficiency of the dollar cost per GJ expenditure of Bitcoin mining is 40 times that of traditional banking and 10 times that of gold mining.
CoinShares asserts that, given the amount of energy used, Bitcoin mining is more driven by renewable energy than almost every other large industry in the world. A more useful comparison is the way the industry has developed compared to gold and traditional finance (see below).
For gold, the researchers assumed that the energy consumption per kilogram of gold mined was 175 gigajoules. Approximately 3,100 metric tons of gold are mined each year, bringing the total energy demand for gold mining to close to 150 terawatt hours each year.
According to this chart, it can be determined that gold mining requires more energy than Bitcoin mining.
There is an important difference between how much energy a system consumes and how much carbon it emits. Although determining energy consumption is relatively simple, you cannot infer the relevant carbon emissions without knowing the exact energy mix, that is, the composition of the different energy sources used by the computers that mine Bitcoin. For example, a unit of hydropower will have a much smaller impact on the environment than the same unit of coal-fired energy.
As a result, estimates of the percentage of renewable energy used in Bitcoin mining vary widely. According to a CoinShare report, published in December 2019, it showed that 73% of Bitcoin’s energy consumption was carbon neutral, mainly due to the abundance of hydropower in major mining centers such as Southwest China and Scandinavia.
According to the International Energy Association (IEA), in stark contrast to all other fuels, the renewable energy used for power generation will grow by nearly 7% by 2020. Global energy demand will fall by 5%, but priority access to the power grid and continuous installation of new power plants have laid the foundation for the strong growth of renewable energy.
IEA also stated that it is expected that the decline in economic activity due to the pandemic will harm the heat consumption of renewable energy sources. Quote from Bill Gates, electricity and heating produce big amount of carbon emission, It is difficult for clean energy to solve the peak shaving and consumption problems. SAI(www.sai.tech) team innovatively reuse the heat from computing and provide heating services, which can solve the energy consumption and carbon emission problems at the same time. We could use bitcoin mining as a “profitable battery” to consume the idle electricity.
Bitcoin uses the highest proportion of clean energy in both financial and technology industry
Another key factor that makes Bitcoin’s energy consumption different from most other industries is that Bitcoin can be mined anywhere. Almost all energy used in the world must be relatively close to its end-user production, but Bitcoin does not have this restriction, which allows miners to utilize power that is not available to most other applications.
Hydro is the most well-known example of this. In the wet season in Sichuan and Yunnan in China, enormous quantities of renewable hydro energy are wasted every year. In these areas, production capacity greatly exceeds local demand, and battery technology is far from advanced, so there is no way to store and transport energy from these rural areas to urban centers that need it. These regions are likely to represent the largest single stranded energy resources on the planet. Therefore, it is no coincidence that these provinces are the heartland of China’s mining industry, responsible for almost 10% of global Bitcoin mining in the dry season and 50% in the rainy season.
As mentioned earlier, bitcoin miners, on the other hand, are an ideal complementary technology for renewables and storage. Combining generation with both storage and miners presents a better overall value proposition than building generation and storage alone. In BCEI White Paper, by combining miners with renewables + storage projects, we believe it could provide the grid with readily available “excess” energy for increasingly common black swan events like excessively hot or cold days when demand spikes (e.g. the early 2021 outages in Texas).
In other terms, the electricity consumed by Bitcoin mining is some energy that is “destined to be wasted”, and to some extent it has increased the income of clean energy power generation.
Only by increasing the benefits of using renewable energy and reducing its costs, the market will spontaneously choose to use clean energy, and the transformation of energy use will be truly accelerated. At this point, Bitcoin mining has played a certain “facilitation” role.
Bitcoin mining is more in line with ESG and is conducive to carbon neutrality
Many journalists and academics talk about Bitcoin’s high “per-transaction energy cost,” but this metric is misleading. Most of Bitcoin’s energy consumption occurs during the mining process. After the coin is issued, the energy required to verify the transaction is very small. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to just look at the total energy consumption of Bitcoin to date, and then divide it by the number of transactions. Most of the energy is used to mine Bitcoin, not to support transactions. This led to our final serious misunderstanding: the energy costs associated with mining Bitcoin will continue to increase exponentially.
Bitcoin mining is an energy intensive industry. Correspondingly, miners exude large quantities of heat as a by-product of the hashing process, which conventionally has been vented into the atmosphere. Represented by SAI (www.sai.tech), companies are exploring different ways to recover and reuse waste heat in order to create additional sources of income and offset electricity costs.
SAI was founded in 2019, and is a horizontally integrated clean energy technology company. As the vice chairman unit of the Clean Heating Industry Committee (CHIC), SAI has four core technology sectors: SAIHEAT (chip waste heat utilization), SAIWATT(clean power consumption), SAIBYTE (computing cloud network system), and SAICHIP (new computing chip).
The SAIHEAT Energy & Computing Center, which has obtained AAA-level certification for clean heating services, uses the “chip water cooling + chip waste heat utilization” technical system to realize waste heat recovery and energy secondary utilization, and open up the computing power, electricity, and heating links to reduce costs and improve Energy efficiency. The traditional heating system can be applied in civil and commercial buildings after adding a SAIHEAT series chip waste heat heating cabinet. In an ecological park of SAI in central Asia, the greenhouse can be maintained at a suitable temperature of more than 40 degrees by recycling the waste heat generated by computing when the outdoor temperature is minus 7 degrees. SAI can reduce the computing power cost of about 35% for customers, together with the heating cost of the heat demand side and the corresponding power investment.
For example, in a project of SAI Heat Technology located in Central Asia, the SAIHEAT Energy & Computing Center can use technical means to recover the waste heat generated by computing, and then use the heat for greenhouse heating. The greenhouse can be maintained at 43.4 degrees (the outdoor environment is minus 7 degrees). The average heat recovery rate of the whole process exceeds 80%. This allows customers to reduce the cost of computing power and heating power by about 35% while effectively reducing the power supporting investment, realizing a clean computing power solution.
Use the renewable energies to power the mining chips, reuse the heat the chips self-produced, it is a carbon neutral closed loop.
Prospects for the future
Arthur Lee, founder of SAI, said that SAI ’s mission is to enable everyone to use more clean and affordable computing power, electricity and heating resources. In the future, the company will adhere to “energy empower computing, computing empower future” corporate vision, continue to explore in the direction of providing high-performance computing based on clean energy, accumulate experience for the industry to achieve a comprehensive clean computing power. At the same time, SAI has also made a good circle of leadership and demonstration effect “carbon neutral” goal.
In conclusion, Bitcoin has been dealing with scepticism since its inception. Some theories are wilder than others, but arguably one of the most latched-onto debates has been around Bitcoin’s energy consumption and its alleged harmful level of emissions. The traditional banking system, according to a recent research, total consumption for banks during a year only on three metrics, is around 26 TWh on servers, 87 TWh on branches and 26TWh on ATMs for a total of close to a 140 TWh a year. Bitcoin consumes 1/4 the power of banks. But, this is just the start for bitcoins. As we move towards making every transaction using cryptocurrency, the power consumption decreases.
As the clean computing industry develops more mature, Bitcoin mining is more conducive to reducing the total carbon emissions of human society, and then achieving the goal of carbon neutrality.