Bitcoin mining has struggled to become more environmentally sustainable, whereas Ethereum has nearly eliminated its carbon footprint after the Merge, a report claims.
Bitcoin mining projects, which require outsized amounts of electricity to process transactions and create new coins, have been working to shift to cleaner resources, following backlash from policymakers, investors, and environmentalists.
However, recent findings from Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) revealed that fossil fuels still made up some 62% of Bitcoin’s energy mix in Jan., the latest data available, down a mere three percentage points from the year prior.
Fossil fuels still powering Bitcoin
With an overall share of 36.6%, coal was found to be the largest single energy source behind Bitcoin mining. But while this constituted a drop from 47% a year prior, in the meantime, Bitcoin became more reliant on natural gas, accounting for a quarter of Bitcoin’s energy mix, versus 16% a year earlier.
On the flip side, the role of more sustainable energy sources in the mix barely rose from 35% in 2021 to 37.6% at the beginning of this year.
Within that segment, 26.3% are considered renewables, such as hydro, wind and solar, with the remaining 11.3% being nuclear power.
Although hydropower was the largest sustainable energy source with a share of 14.9%, it had fallen from 20% the previous year.
Cambridge highlighted that the findings differed noticeably from industry figures, which estimate the share of sustainable energy sources in Bitcoin’s energy mix to be 59.5%.
Yet, as Bitcoin has made sluggish progress with its sustainability goals, Ethereum has slashed its electricity.
According to analysis from Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI), Ethereum’s transition to proof of stake with the recently completed Merge was expected to reduce its electricity use by 99.988%, which the institute estimated would also reduce its total carbon dioxide emissions by 99.99%.
According to data from the Ethereum Energy Consumption Index, Ethereum power usage went from 77.77 TWh on Sept. 14 to 3.4 the following day with the Merge. Since then daily output has not risen about 0.02 TWh.
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