The electricity mix of Bitcoin (BTC) has drastically changed over the past few years, with nuclear energy and natural gas becoming the fastest growing energy sources powering Bitcoin mining, according to new data.
The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) on Tuesday released a major update to its Bitcoin mining-dedicated data source, the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI).
According to the data from Cambridge, fossil fuels like coal and natural gas made up almost two-thirds of Bitcoin’s total electricity mix as of January 2022, accounting for more than 62%. As such, the share of sustainable energy sources in the BTC energy mix amounted to 38%.
The new study suggests that coal alone accounted for nearly 37% of Bitcoin’s total electricity consumption as of early 2022, becoming the largest single energy source for BTC mining. Among sustainable energy sources, hydropower was found to be the largest resource, with a share of roughly 15%.
Despite Bitcoin mining significantly relying on coal and hydropower, the shares of these energy sources in the total BTC energy mix have been dropping over the past several years. In 2020, coal power powered 40% of global BTC mining. Hydropower’s share has more than halved from 2020 to 2021, tumbling from 34% to 15%.
Bitcoin mining electricity mix from 2019 to 2022. Source: CCAF
In contrast, the role of natural gas and nuclear energy in Bitcoin mining has been notably growing over the past two years. The share of gas in the BTC electricity mix surged from about 13% in 2020 to 23% in 2021, while the percentage of nuclear energy increased from 4% in 2021 to nearly 9% in 2022.
According to Cambridge analysts, Chinese miner relocations were a major reason behind sharp fluctuations in Bitcoin’s energy mix in 2020 and 2021. China’s crackdown on crypto in 2021 and the associated miner migration resulted in a major drop in the share of hydroelectric power in the BTC energy mix. As previously reported, Chinese authorities shut down a number of crypto mining farms powered by hydroelectricity in 2021.
“The Chinese government’s ban on cryptocurrency mining…