Bitcoin sustains 15% loss as Bill Gates criticises its climate footprint

Posted: 17 March 2021 1:54 pm
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Debate rages over the carbon impact of Bitcoin transactions with "bitcoin sceptic" Bill Gates criticising its power consumption

  • Bitcoin rises again after dropping 15%, fresh off the back of setting a new all-time high of AUD$79,631.
  • Cardano rises 18% after news it will be listed on Coinbase Pro.
  • Bill Gates criticises Bitcoin over energy consumption and calls for greater regulation.

Bitcoin price movements

Bitcoin is trading at AUD$73,218 at the time of writing, which is a 5.7% increase from the day's low of AUD$69,274. Bitcoin's spot price appears to be recovering from the 15% loss that followed after it hit a new all-time high of AUD$79,631 only three days ago.

As of press time, Bitcoin sits 9.3% below its all-time high minted over the weekend. Despite the sharp volatility, few market analysts are pricing in an end to the current bull run in the short term. Despite this, the current Bitcoin surge is pushing altcoins higher.

All cryptocurrencies in the top 10 cryptos are presently up. Cardano (ADA) is leading the charge having grown 18% over the last 24 hours. The price rise comes on the heels of Coinbase's announcement that Cardano will be added to Coinbase Pro.

How to buy Bitcoin

Debate rages over the climate impacts of Bitcoin

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has recently criticised Bitcoin by saying that Bitcoin "is not a great climate thing" in a casual Clubhouse chat with CNBC's Ross Sorkin. Gates said that per transaction, Bitcoin uses more electricity than "any other method known to mankind".

According to Cambridge researchers, the Bitcoin network consumes an estimated 128.77 terawatt-hours of global electricity consumption per year. That figure represents a little more than half of one percent (0.59%) of global energy consumption and could be as low as 40 terawatt hours – or ten times higher than that at over 400 terawatt hours.

The researchers estimate that over 65% of the total Bitcoin hashrate is produced in China, where nearly half of all of the nation's electricity is generated via non-coal fired power, including renewable sources such as hydro-electric and solar.

Bill Gates remains a "bitcoin sceptic" despite research suggesting that 39% of the total hashrate is produced with clean energy, with as many as 76% of miners using some form of renewable technology.

Siding with Gates, Bloomberg writes that the Bitcoin mining industry is "an incredibly dirty business". The op-ed by Lionel Laurent claims that the carbon cost of one Bitcoin transaction could be equal to over 700,000 swipes of a VISA card. This is despite saying that the estimates are "not exact science" and VISA's recent uptake of cryptocurrency service offerings was glazed over.

Crypto columnist Nic Carter replied to Bloomberg in an article titled "What Bloomberg gets wrong about Bitcoin's carbon footprint". Carter says that the block rewards for Bitcoin or the "issuance rate" are what is causing the huge power consumption and that over time that will decrease. However, it is unclear when that will take place as Bitcoin issuance is scheduled into the next century.

Solar power to increase four times over the next decade

According to the United State Solar Energy Industries Association, solar power generation is expected to increase by as much as four times over the next decade in the United States alone. Bringing with it the potential for all households to have a stake in Bitcoin mining and reduce the costs of household heating.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that stocks in solar provider Enphase (NASDAQ:ENPH) were one of only five major stocks to appreciate faster than Bitcoin in the year 2020.

Interested in cryptocurrency? Learn more about the basics with our beginner's guide to Bitcoin, keep your crypto safe with a hardware wallet and dive deeper with our simple guide to DeFi.


Disclosure: The author owns a range of cryptocurrencies at the time of writing

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

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