Two technicians work at a bitcoin mining facility in Quebec.
lars Hagbarg | AFP | Getty Images
For years, bitcoin critics have maligned the world’s biggest cryptocurrency for polluting the planet. But new data from Cambridge University shows that the geography of mining has drastically changed over the last six months, and experts tell CNBC this will improve bitcoin’s carbon footprint.
China’s big crypto crackdown this spring set off a chain reaction in the mining world.
For one, it took half the world’s bitcoin miners offline practically overnight. Fewer people mining has meant less machines running and less power being consumed overall, which slashed bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Beijing’s new crypto rules also permanently took a lot of older and more inefficient gear offline.
And crucially, China shutting its doors to crypto mining has set off a massive migration. Miners are now heading to the cheapest sources of energy on the planet, which more often than not are renewable.
“The bitcoin network is ruthless in its drive for the lowest cost,” said Mike Colyer, CEO of digital currency company Foundry. “Miners around the world are looking for stranded power that is renewable. That will always be your lowest cost. Net-net this will be a big win for bitcoin’s carbon footprint.”
China’s mining exodus
China has long been the mecca of the crypto mining world, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all bitcoin miners at its peak, according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative