ViaBTC | Is It Feasible to Mine Bitcoin with Nuclear Energy? Which Energy is the Most Suitable Source for Bitcoin Mining?

ViaBTC
3 min readJun 6, 2023

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It is an unavoidable fact that mining Bitcoin consumes massive power. Meanwhile, along with the adoption of increasingly stringent environmental policies and growing environmental awareness worldwide, Bitcoin mining, which involves high energy consumption, emissions, waste gases, and noise, has become a controversial topic. Today, the crypto industry focuses on finding solutions to these concerns and minimizing the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

Transitioning from traditional fossil energy to clean energy is an effective solution that will reduce the negative environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, as well as its reliance on fossil fuels. Replacing fossil fuels like coal with clean energy in Bitcoin mining could significantly reduce carbon emissions. It is estimated that for every 10,000 kilowatt-hours of clean power used, 3.076 tons of standard coal can be saved, cutting carbon emissions by 8.4 tons. Consequently, many mining companies have started to build clean energy-powered mining farms or explore innovative technologies like waste heat utilization to address the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

This March, the United States witnessed the establishment of its first Bitcoin mining farm powered entirely by nuclear energy. This development has shifted attention towards the combination of nuclear power and Bitcoin mining as a potential new trend for the future of the Bitcoin mining industry.

From an environmental standpoint, the carbon emissions from nuclear power generation take up only 1% of those produced by fossil fuel generation of the same scale. Additionally, nuclear power plants emit fewer pollutants such as waste gases and wastewater. Unlike clean energy sources like hydropower, wind energy, and solar power, nuclear energy is not dependent on season or geographical location.

Nuclear energy is an efficient, clean energy source that is well-suited for Bitcoin mining. According to the data recorded by CCAF in 2022, although coal-fired power generation still accounts for a significant portion of the overall Bitcoin electricity consumption, its share has been declining in recent years. In 2020, coal power accounted for 40% of the electricity used for Bitcoin mining globally, but by 2022, the figure had dropped to 36%.

The share of nuclear energy in the Bitcoin electricity consumption growing for three consecutive years (source: CCAF)

In contrast, the share of nuclear energy in the Bitcoin electricity consumption has been growing year by year, exceeding 10% in 2022. However, due to the specific requirements for the construction and operation of nuclear plants, regions capable of adopting nuclear-powered mining are concentrated in North America and Europe, with an uneven distribution. Limited by their nuclear power technologies and uranium reserves, most developing countries and least developed countries do not have nuclear power plants.

Moreover, the construction and operation of nuclear plants are also associated with environmental risks. For instance, nuclear plants produce radioactive wastes, the improper disposal of which can lead to pollution and pose threats to the environment. There have been many nuclear accidents, which have instilled fear in the public. This is why the areas near nuclear plants are almost “no-go zones”, and building mining farms in such “deserted” places can take a psychological toll on miners.

Pros and cons of common clean energy sources

In conclusion, whether it is nuclear, wind, solar, or hydro, each source of energy has its pros and cons, and only the clean energy with the highest cost-effectiveness will attract crypto mining companies, mining farm owners, and miners.

As Bitcoin mining has become a global industry, a growing number of countries and regions are realizing the contributions of Bitcoin mining to local economy and employment. As a result, they are actively promoting energy-related policy incentives to create a more favorable environment for Bitcoin mining and attract more miners. Access to nuclear energy will be a huge advantage for North America and Europe, and we may see more mining companies embracing nuclear power this year.

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