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Decoding the Methodology: How We Measure Bitcoin's Ecological Footprint

Bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency, has evolved into several distinct protocols: Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV). Each stems from the same foundational blockchain technology and shares a common ancestry but has since diverged to embody unique visions for Bitcoin’s future.

BTC remains the highest valued chain, emphasizing a restrictive approach to block sizes and positioning itself as a store of value. BCH emerged from a desire to increase transaction capacity, advocating for larger blocks to serve as a practical medium for daily transactions. BSV further extended this idea, aiming to closely align with Satoshi Nakamoto’s initial blueprint for Bitcoin by removing block size limits entirely and focusing on scalability. These variations reflect the diverse perspectives within the Bitcoin community on how best to achieve a balance between decentralization, scalability, and utility.

The conventional methodology for evaluating Bitcoin protocols has predominantly centered around economic factors. However, this approach overlooks a crucial aspect of these protocols’ scalability and sustainability: throughput. In this section, we introduce an innovative methodology that emphasizes throughput as a key metric for assessing Bitcoin protocols, moving away from the traditional economic-centric analysis.

We acknowledge that while economic factors like transaction fees and miner incentives are important, they do not fully capture the technical capabilities and limitations of Bitcoin protocols. Throughput, defined as the number of transactions a system can process within a specific timeframe, offers a more direct measure of a protocol’s scalability and efficiency. Our methodology prioritizes throughput as a primary indicator, examining how different Bitcoin protocols handle increasing transaction volumes and network demands.

By shifting the focus to throughput, our approach provides a fresh lens through which the scalability and sustainability of Bitcoin protocols can be evaluated. This section aims to offer a comprehensive and balanced perspective, enabling a deeper understanding of the technical dynamics at play in the evolving landscape of Bitcoin and blockchain technologies.

Bitcoin History

A protocol acts as the foundational blueprint dictating interactions and data exchanges within a network. In the cryptocurrency landscape, protocols like BTC, BCH, and BSV, while originating from the same genesis block and sharing Satoshi Nakamoto’s foundational principles, have evolved distinctly. BTC prioritizes a smaller block size, emphasizing decentralization and security. This design choice, however, leads to considerable energy consumption, contributing to a notable environmental footprint due to intensive mining activities. 

In contrast, BSV increases block size to facilitate microtransactions and enterprise utility. These variations in protocols reflect not just the technical differences in network performance but also the diverse visions within the Bitcoin ecosystem, each with its own environmental implications. 

PoW Comparison

Shared Genesis Block

BTC, BCH, and BSV all share the same original genesis block. This is the first block of the blockchain, mined by Bitcoin's creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, in January 2009. Each of these cryptocurrencies carried the same blockchain history up until their respective forks.

Proof of Work Consensus

All three utilize the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism. This means that miners must use computational power to solve complex mathematical problems to validate transactions and mine new blocks.

21 Million Coin Supply Cap

BTC, BCH, and BSV adhere to the original Bitcoin protocol's stipulation of a maximum supply of 21 million coins. This supply limit is designed to prevent inflation and mimic the scarcity of precious metals like gold.

Satoshi's Whitepaper

The foundational document for all three is Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper, titled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." Although they interpret the vision differently, each claims to be true to the original intent of the whitepaper.

How Bitcoin Mining and Proof-of-Work Protocols Operate

To accurately evaluate the efficiency of Bitcoin and its protocols, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of Bitcoin mining. This part of our website simplifies the complex procedure of Bitcoin mining.

Bitcoin utilizes a Proof of Work (PoW) system, an idea originally presented in Satoshi Nakamoto’s pioneering Bitcoin whitepaper. Inspired by Hashcash, this system involves miners using their computers’ processing power to solve intricate cryptographic puzzles. These puzzles require finding a specific value that, when run through the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, produces an output starting with a set number of zero bits. We can modify the puzzle’s complexity by changing this number of zeros.

For our analysis, we use the S19 Antminer as our standard benchmark. This device is specific in its operational details, which include:

  • Power Consumption: 3.25 kilowatts (kW)
  • Hashrate: 110 terahashes per second (TH/s)

Additionally, we apply a standard emission rate of 0.5 kilograms (kg) of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in our assessments. This allows us to evaluate the environmental impact alongside the efficiency of the mining process.

What is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin mining is a process where computers work to solve difficult math problems. When they solve these problems, they help process Bitcoin transactions and keep the Bitcoin network safe and running smoothly.

Special software on computers tries to solve these math puzzles. It’s a bit like trying to guess a very long and complex password. The first computer to solve the puzzle gets some Bitcoin as a reward.

Just like mining for gold or diamonds takes effort and resources, solving these math puzzles requires a lot of computer power and electricity. That’s why it’s called ‘mining’ – because it’s hard work and uses resources.

The puzzles are designed to be hard to solve but easy to check. Once a computer solves the puzzle, it’s easy for other computers to confirm it’s correct. This keeps everything fair and secure.

People mine Bitcoin because they can earn Bitcoin as a reward. It’s a bit like being paid for doing a very difficult and important job. This job is crucial for keeping the Bitcoin system working properly.

Yes, because computers use a lot of electricity to mine Bitcoin. This has raised concerns about the environmental impact. It’s an important issue that the Bitcoin community is working to address.

Mining a single Bitcoin isn’t a matter of time but a matter of computational power. The more computing power you have, the faster you can solve puzzles. However, the Bitcoin network adjusts the puzzle difficulty to ensure that a new block is added approximately every 10 minutes, regardless of how many miners are competing. So, the time it takes to mine one Bitcoin depends on the power of your mining setup and the overall competition in the network.

The total number of Bitcoins that can ever be mined is capped at 21 million. It’s estimated that this limit will be reached around the year 2140. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, miners will no longer receive block rewards. However, they will still earn transaction fees for validating transactions and maintaining the blockchain. This fee-based system is expected to incentivize miners to keep the network secure and operational even after all Bitcoins are mined.

Proof of Work (PoW) mining is a critical process for validating transactions and securing blockchain networks. Each phase of PoW mining involves varying levels of resource consumption, impacting the overall environmental footprint of Bitcoin.

This chart illustrates the different phases of the Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain mining process and their respective levels of electricity consumption, computational resources, network communication, and disk and memory usage.

  1. Broadcasting Transactions: Initiating the mining process with new transactions requires minimal electricity but relies heavily on network communication and sufficient memory.

  2. Block Building: Miners compile and verify transactions to create a new block. This stage consumes significant electricity and computational resources to ensure transaction integrity.

  3. Proof of Work (Mining): Miners compete to solve cryptographic challenges, with the winner adding the new block to the blockchain. This is the most energy-intensive step, requiring extensive computational power and electricity.

  4. Broadcasting Proof of Work: After successfully solving the challenge, the proof is rapidly disseminated across the network, necessitating a robust communication infrastructure.

  5. Accepting the New Block: Network nodes validate the miner’s work. Once the block is confirmed as valid, it is added to the blockchain, involving high computational effort and memory usage.

  6. Adding to the Blockchain: The validated block is officially recorded in the blockchain, requiring substantial memory and disk space to update each node’s ledger.

Transaction Throughput

Transaction throughput is an essential measure in software engineering and computer science that indicates how fast a system processes transactions. It helps identify performance bottlenecks and provides insights into a system’s capacity for handling data and scalability.

This metric, calculated based on the number of transactions a system completes in a given period, allows for the comparison of different systems’ performance. It’s a useful tool for monitoring performance over time and identifying potential issues.

By analyzing transaction throughput, one can pinpoint parts of a system that are slow in processing transactions and address these areas to improve overall system speed. This approach is also helpful in determining a system’s maximum capacity for handling transactions, ensuring it can cope with expected workloads.

Furthermore, throughput analysis is key in assessing system scalability. It helps predict challenges that might arise when scaling the system, aiming to maintain consistent performance regardless of changes in transaction volumes.

Transactions Per Second

This chart analyzes blockchain networks by comparing their transactions per second every 24 hours. It focuses on the capacity of these networks to handle a high volume of transactions efficiently.

Daily Average Transaction Fees

As we move into a new era of blockchain technology, transaction fees are set to play an increasingly pivotal role in the economic sustainability of mining operations. As the original block rewards diminish, miners will rely more heavily on transaction fees as their primary source of revenue.

Our comprehensive chart details the average daily transaction fees for BTC, BCH, and BSV, showcasing the dynamic economic models of three leading PoW blockchain networks.

The average daily transaction fees chart provides a clear indicator of the current state of play but also a window into the future of blockchain economics. As block rewards wane, the scalability and efficiency of networks like BSV could pave the way for a more sustainable and economically viable blockchain ecosystem.

Avg Transaction Fee
CurrencyAvg Tx Fee
BTC$1.69
BSV$0.000005
BCH$0.0069

This table shows the average transaction fees for BTC, BSV, and BCH, revealing the varying costs associated with operating on these blockchain networks.

Input VS Output

In the realm of blockchain protocols, the interplay between input and output is a crucial factor in assessing network performance.

Input, represented by the global Proof of Work (PoW) hashrate, reflects the computational energy expended to maintain the network’s integrity and process transactions.

Output, on the other hand, is measured by transactions per second (TPS), indicating the network’s capacity to handle transactional volume.

A careful examination of these two aspects reveals the efficiency of a blockchain protocol: protocols with higher input and smaller block sizes tend to have higher energy consumption with lower TPS, while those with larger or no block size limits demonstrate a more favorable energy expenditure per transaction, especially as network activity scales up.

Input (% PoW Consumption)

The input side of a blockchain protocol is gauged by its hashrate—a measure of the computational power driving the network.

Output (% Transaction Volume)

On the output spectrum, transactions per second (TPS) serve as a benchmark for a blockchain’s operational efficiency.

CO2 Emission Calculation for Proof-of-Work Networks

The CO2 Emission Calculation for Proof-of-Work (PoW) Networks is a method to estimate the carbon footprint of blockchain transactions, particularly for networks that use the PoW consensus mechanism, like Bitcoin. This formula considers several factors, including the network’s hashrate, the efficiency of mining hardware (in this case, the Antminer S19), and the average CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Here’s a breakdown of each step in the formula:

Formula:

CO2 (kg) = [ (Blockchain Hashrate / 110,000,000,000,000 S19 Hashrate) × 3.25 kW × 0.5 kg CO2 ] / Transaction Volume

  1. Estimate the Number of Miners: This is calculated by dividing the blockchain network’s total hashrate by the hashrate of a single Antminer S19, which is 110 terahashes per second (TH/s). This gives an estimate of how many S19 miners are needed to achieve the network’s total hashrate.

  2. Calculate Total Energy Consumption: The energy consumption of one Antminer S19 is 3.25 kilowatts (kW). By multiplying this figure by the estimated number of miners, you get the total energy consumption for the network.

  3. Convert Energy to CO2 Emissions: The standard emission rate used here is 0.5 kilograms (kg) of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This rate is used to convert the total energy consumption of the network into CO2 emissions. This is based on an average figure and may vary depending on the energy mix (e.g., renewable vs. fossil fuels) used to power the miners.

  4. Determine CO2 Footprint per Transaction: The total CO2 emissions are then divided by the transaction volume of the network. This gives the average CO2 footprint for each transaction processed on the network.

The formula simplifies and standardizes the calculation by using the Antminer S19 as a benchmark due to its common use and known specifications. The Antminer S19 is a widely used mining rig in the Bitcoin network, known for its efficiency and power. Its specifications are:

  • Power Consumption: 3.25 kW
  • Hashrate: 110 TH/s

Using a standard emission rate of 0.5 kg CO2 per kWh helps in making these calculations more uniform and comparable across different analyses. However, it’s important to note that actual CO2 emissions can vary based on the energy source (e.g., coal, natural gas, renewables) and the efficiency of the local power grid.

Statistics Refreshed Daily:

P.o.W. Sustainability Index
Currency% HashrateTPSKg CO2/TxESG Rating
BTC99.2854111 stars
BSV0.110.653.625 stars
BCH0.620.86155 stars
P.o.W. Sustainability Index
Currency% HashrateTPSKg CO2/TxESG Rating
BTC99.2854111 stars
BSV0.110.653.625 stars
BCH0.620.86155 stars

Proof of Work CO2 Emission Standards

Charting a Greener Future

  1. 2020-2025: Foundation and Initial Reduction – Marked by aggressive initial reduction strategies to lower emissions significantly from the baseline figures.
  2. 2025-2030: Alignment with Global Goals – Focused on accelerated reduction to align with broader global sustainability targets.
  3. 2030-2035: Align with International Climate Agreements – Aiming for near-Visa level emissions, pushing boundaries to achieve remarkable efficiency.
  4. 2035-2040: Significant Efficiency Gains – Working towards achieving Visa-level emissions, reflecting deep decarbonization efforts.
  5. 2040-2045: Deep Decarbonization – Targeting near-zero emissions, showcasing the commitment to environmental stewardship.
  6. 2045-2050: Achieving a Zero-Carbon Footprint – The ultimate goal of zero emissions, embodying the transition to sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Our star rating, from one to five stars, reflects how efficiently different blockchain operations reduce CO2 emissions per transaction. This means the more stars, the cleaner the technology! Join us as we make blockchain green and help secure a sustainable future for all.

ESG Rating
BTC Kg CO2/Tx
411
BSV Kg CO2/Tx
3.62
BCH Kg CO2/Tx
15

Summarizing Our Methodology

Our comprehensive analysis at leads to several key conclusions about the sustainability and efficiency of Proof of Work (PoW) protocols in blockchain technologies, particularly focusing on Bitcoin and its variants:

  1. Security and Efficiency of PoW: PoW’s inherent security, a pivotal aspect of Bitcoin’s original protocol, is underscored by its resistance to attacks due to the computational challenges involved. This security does not inherently compromise efficiency; rather, innovations in Bitcoin technology show potential for energy-efficient scaling.

  2. Energy Consumption and Transaction Throughput: We find that energy consumption in Bitcoin mining is more closely aligned with mining revenues rather than transaction counts. Innovations like on-chain scaling, allowing for larger block sizes, have enabled higher transaction throughput, thus reducing the energy footprint per transaction.

  3. Bitcoin Variants and Sustainability: Our research indicates that while Bitcoin (BTC) has a significant environmental impact, its variant Bitcoin SV (BSV) demonstrates superior performance in terms of energy usage per transaction. This is primarily due to BSV’s larger block sizes and more efficient processing capabilities.

  4. Diverse Utility and Future Implications: The varying applications of Bitcoin variants—from BTC’s role as a store of value to BSV’s function in data management and monetization —highlight the diverse potential of blockchain technologies. This diversity is crucial in assessing the future scalability, utility, and environmental impact of these networks.

  5. Speculation vs. Sustainability in Token Valuation: Current market trends often prioritize speculation over utility in token valuation. Our methodology suggests a paradigm shift towards valuing tokens based on their utility and sustainability, aligning more closely with environmental considerations.

  6. Bitcoin and Environmental Solutions: Efficient Bitcoin protocols, capable of handling high transaction volumes with lower energy consumption, are essential in the global effort to combat climate change. The balance between computational input (global PoW hashrate) and transactional output (transactions per second) is vital in assessing a network’s environmental sustainability.

In conclusion, our methodology highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of Bitcoin technologies. It emphasizes the importance of innovation in driving sustainability and efficiency in the blockchain sector, particularly in the context of global environmental challenges.