Bitcoin (BTC) continues to receive criticism regarding its carbon footprint impact as the asset records significant adoption in different jurisdictions. However, the situation might be changing, especially with mining operators increasingly opting for renewable sources of energy in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.
According to the study, the Bitcoin network currently has 62.4% zero emissions by factoring in carbon-negative mining. By March 2023, the activity is expected to have 72.7% zero emissions based on newly announced carbon-negative projects.
Under the methodology, the researchers calculated the amount of Bitcoin energy emanating from positive carbon sources and then derived the positive carbon quantity. Additionally, the researchers reverse-engineered to calculate how much methane would need to be removed from the air through combustion to counter-balance the negative carbon quantity.
Bitcoin’s road to carbon neutral
The study’s conclusion is based on the use of flared gas to power Bitcoin mining which has been growing by 8.3 MW per month since May 2021.
“We anticipate that Bitcoin mining using vented methane as power will initially grow at only 83% of the growth rate of flared gas mining (6.9 MW/month). Based on this more modest growth rate, we forecast that the Bitcoin network will become carbon neutral in Q4, 2024 fully,” the study said.
Furthermore, the analysis acknowledged that the hash rate would likely increase alongside energy consumption with Bitcoin’s growth. However, the study pointed out that renewable network usage and miner efficiency are also rising and will offer a counter-balance to the hash rate.
Bitcoin carbon footprint criticism
In general, Bitcoin’s carbon footprint has come under scrutiny from different jurisdictions, with the topic becoming a regulatory focus point. For instance, the White House commissioned a study to determine Bitcoin and crypto power consumption to influence the country’s regulatory policy.
At the same time, different mining operators have increasingly turned to renewable sources to curb their carbon footprint impact.
However, it will be interesting to monitor how Bitcoin’s net zero emissions influence the regulatory aspect. This comes as jurisdictions like New York outlawed establishing new proof-of-work (PoW) mining activities.