• Daniyar Kylyzhov

Scientists try to estimate emissions from Bitcoin mining in China

China's carbon emissions from bitcoin mining are rapidly increasing. An analysis by Tsinghua University in Beijing suggests that the total carbon footprint of bitcoin mining in China will reach 130 million tonnes by 2024. This figure exceeds the annual carbon emissions in several European countries, including Italy and the Czech Republic.

As of April 2020, China accounts for over 78% of bitcoin mining worldwide. Certain rural areas in China are considered ideal mining locations due to the relatively low electricity prices. By 2024, bitcoin mining in China will require 297 terawatt-hours of energy and will account for approximately 5.4% of the country's electricity generation carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions from bitcoin mining will peak at 130.50 million tons per year in 2024, after which miners are likely to gradually "migrate".

As the authors of the study explain, bitcoin mining becomes more difficult every year and requires more computing power to solve. The cost of equipment and electricity for its operation has also increased. Researchers predicted a peak in emissions in China based on calculations that in 2024 the total cost of mining will outweigh the financial benefits of selling mined bitcoins. The profits of miners, according to scientists, will fall to zero in April 2024, after which they will gradually stop mining in China and move their activities to another location. The resettlement process will not take place immediately.

“It is important to consider whether the miner is located in Shanghai, Beijing, or other places. It depends on what type of electricity it uses, the researchers point out. "Overall, 40% of China's bitcoin mining comes from coal."

Bitcoin miners in Beijing or other parts of northern China are likely to use electricity from coal-fired power plants, while mining in southern provinces, especially Guizhou, Yunnan, and Sichuan, is largely driven by hydropower.

Given that the Chinese government has set a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2060, regulations will need to be put in place to reduce carbon emissions from bitcoin mining and future emerging sectors, according to the study authors.