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Bitcoin Mining Used More Water Than New York City Last Year

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Bitcoin miners use water directly to cool their computer servers and indirectly by running both computers and air conditioning systems powered by gas- and coal-fired power plants that require cooling water.

New estimates find billions of gallons needed to support cryptocurrency, fueling concerns about the environmental impact.

Credit: Emil Lendof/The Wall Street Journal; iStock

A study by Alex de Vries of the Netherlands' Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam found that water use by bitcoin miners hit 591 billion gallons so far this year, up from 415 billion gallons in 2021.

de Vries found that bitcoin mining in the U.S. consumes the same amount of water used by 300,000 households per year, raising environmental concerns, particularly in areas plagued by drought or the lack of fresh water.

Digital Power Network's Perianne Boring maintains most of the water used by bitcoin miners is recycled or returned to the environment.

The Rocky Mountain Institute's Paolo Natali said changes to bitcoin software to reduce the number of calculations needed for mining would cut electricity and water requirements, but such changes would "require some consensus among all the holders of bitcoin, or for them to start trading different currencies."

From The Wall Street Journal
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