US Ramps Up Monitoring of Crypto Miners’ Energy Use

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US Ramps Up Monitoring of Crypto Miners' Energy Use
Blockonomics



The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)  will collect data on the energy use of cryptocurrency miners operating in the United States.

In a press release, the agency announced that it would begin a “provisional survey of electricity consumption information from identified cryptocurrency mining companies operating in the United States.”

Crypto mining is how assets that use a proof of work consensus mechanism, like Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Monero, verify transactions and unlock new coins. Ethereum used to have proof of work consensus, but switched to proof of stake in September 2022 and no longer requires miners.

The survey, to launch next week, will require identified commercial crypto miners to respond with details of their energy use; the EIA will also seek public comment on the collection of crypto miners’ energy use data.

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The survey follows an “emergency collection of data request” by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States.

“We intend to continue to analyze and write about the energy implications of cryptocurrency mining activities in the United States,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis in a statement, adding that the agency would focus on the “evolving” energy demand for crypto mining, identifying geographic areas of growth and the sources of electricity used for crypto mining.

In a tweet, the EIA said that it was conducting the survey in order to “better understand” miners’ energy demands.

Crypto mining and energy consumption

The mining of proof-of-work cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin has historically come in for criticism over its energy use, with the estimated power consumption of the Bitcoin network surpassing that of many countries.

In 2023, environmental campaign group Greenpeace launched a campaign urging Bitcoin developers and miners to abandon its proof-of-work consensus mechanism in favor of the less energy-hungry proof-of-stake model.

Crypto mining advocates have pushed back against critics, arguing that Bitcoin mining can use “excess” green energy and natural gas that would otherwise be wasted, and can help decarbonize energy grids and accelerate the shift to renewables.

In September 2023, the University of Cambridge implemented a major update to its Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), one of the key references for Bitcoin mining’s energy consumption, concluding that previous calculations had been overestimations.

Edited by Stacy Elliott.

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