The billionaire Bitcoin skeptic drew attention to the incredible environmental cost created by Bitcoin transactions, a cost that is expected to grow as the currency’s popularity increases. Speaking to the New York Times, Gates said: “Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind.”
“It’s not a great climate thing.”
Bitcoin, like almost every other cryptocurrency, documents every single transaction on a public ledger which aims to ensure that transactions are transparent.
The problem is that these recorded transactions continuously require new storage space and power to keep running.
Most of these data banks or ‘mines’ are based in China, which sources its power from fossil fuels like coal.
Studies argue that the annual carbon footprint from the electricity generated to mine and maintain the cryptocurrency is already equal to that of New Zealand or Argentina.
As cryptocurrencies become more popular, the greater the environmental impact becomes.
According to Digiconomist, one Bitcoin transaction is the “equivalent to the carbon footprint of 735,121 Visa transactions or 55,280 hours of watching YouTube.”
Gates added that the challenges surrounding the environmental impacts of Bitcoin could be overcome.
He said: “If it’s green electricity and it’s not crowding out other uses, eventually, you know, maybe that’s OK.”
On Monday, investment company Seetee, said it planned to use renewable energy assets to mine Bitcoin.
They plan to use excess power produced by wind, hydroelectric, and solar power to do this.
In a company announcement, they said: “Bitcoin is, in our eyes, a load-balancing economic battery, and batteries are essential to the energy transition required to reach the targets of the Paris agreement.”
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Currently, one Bitcoin is worth around £40,000, up from £6,000 this time last year.