Bitcoin mining has one of the highest sustainable energy mix of all global industries, according to the first report by the Bitcoin Mining Council.
The executive summary of the report provides a strong rebuttal to detractors of the industry, stating that “Bitcoin mining uses negligible amounts of energy, is rapidly becoming more efficient and is powered by a higher mix of sustainable energy than any major country or industry."
The Bitcoin Mining Council was founded in May of this year to address growing concerns regarding the carbon footprint of the Bitcoin mining industry, and provide transparency on energy usage. It consists of voluntary member companies within the North American mining industry, which, according to the report, account for 32% of the current global Bitcoin mining network.
The findings relied primarily on a survey of Bitcoin Mining Council member companies. The survey consisted of three questions:
"1.) How much electricity does your total fleet consume today?; 2.) What is the total % of sustainable electricity within your fleet's power generation mix today?; 3.) What is the total aggregate hashrate of your fleet today?"
According to the council, the results show that the participants are “currently utilizing electricity with a 67% sustainable power mix.” From these results, the council also estimates that the global Bitcoin mining ecosystem uses 56% sustainable energy on average.
For the purposes of the report, "sustainable energy" is defined as a mix of solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and nuclear sources. Carbon sources offset by credits were also included, but accounted for less than 5% of the total sustainable energy makeup, according to MicroStrategy CEO and HODLer Michael Saylor, who presented the report via livestream. A previous study by the University of Cambridge estimated that "39% of proof-of-work mining is powered by renewable energy, primarily hydroelectric energy."
The fact that the data was self-reported and relies on estimates to extrapolate for the entire industry has led some to believe the claims may be overly optimistic.
The Bitcoin Mining Council itself is also not without controversy. One of the primary catalysts for forming the council appears to have been Elon Musk’s infamous announcement that Tesla would no longer be accepting Bitcoin payments for its cars, due to energy concerns. Many worry that the council is making too much of an effort to win over Musk, in what they fear is an attempt to assert control over the network.
Musk has also tweeted that Tesla would resume Bitcoin payments if the network could prove “reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage." It is too early to say whether these new results will appease Musk.
Still, the report and its results show that the Bitcoin community can organize to fight back against one of its longest-running criticisms. As Saylor previously said, "decentralization doesn't have to mean disorganization."