22. February 2024

• The Cambridge Centre For Alternative Finance’s (CCAF) study on Bitcoin’s environmental impact underestimates the amount of sustainable Bitcoin mining going on.
• ESG investors largely don’t feel comfortable investing in Bitcoin due to this misconception.
• To get ESG investment, independent empirical data must demonstrate that Bitcoin is quantitatively moving toward sustainability and is a net positive for the environment.

Overview

This article provides an overview of my research into why the CCAF study underestimated the amount of sustainable energy used for Bitcoin mining and why we can be confident that at least 52.6% of all energy used for mining is from renewable sources. The implications for ESG investments in Bitcoin are discussed, along with what would need to be done to make them more comfortable about investing in it.

Why This Matters

ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) investments are soaring and on track to reach $10.5 trillion in the U.S alone. However, ESG investors are currently not convinced that Bitcoin is a net positive for the environment due to current reports claiming only 37.6% of energy used in mining is sustainable. It is therefore essential that independent empirical data demonstrates that Bitcoin has a positive environmental impact so as to encourage greater ESG investment in it and its user adoption rate increases unencumbered by government regulation or punitive taxation measures.

The CCAF Study

The Cambridge Centre For Alternative Finance’s (CCAF) released a study titled “A Deep Dive Into Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact” which reported that only 37.6% of energy used for mining was from renewable sources – far lower than other studies such as the one conducted by the Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC). Although Alex de Vries’ research has been debunked in an earlier article by Bitcoin Magazine, many still tend to trust CCAF over BMC due to its reputation as an independent research centre compared with BMC being viewed as an industry body despite having access to real-time data on energy usage in mining operations.

What Would It Take?

For ESG funds to invest confidently in bitcoin projects they would require three things: independent empirical data demonstrating unambiguously how much sustainable energy is actually being used; evidence that macro trends are moving towards increasing amounts of renewable energy; and proof that bitcoin itself has a net positive environmental impact overall when compared against other assets/investments within their portfolios.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my research shows that contrary to what was previously believed, at least 52% of all energy consumed by bitcoin miners comes from renewable sources – significantly higher than previously thought – making it possible for greater levels of investment from ESG funds into bitcoin related projects if they had access to this information and were assured of its veracity via independent empirical evidence gathered through trusted channels such as academic institutions or government bodies rather than relying solely on industry-driven reports like those released by BMC or other similar organisations