Despite the climate commitments made by countries in the Paris Climate Agreement adopted in 2015, and reinforced during COP 21, world carbon emissions have increased in both 2021 and 2022. It is increasingly unlikely that the world can achieve the targeted 50% carbon reduction by 2030; the reduction approximately needed for reducing global temperature rise since the beginning of the industrial revolution to less than 1.5 deg. C. At the same time, the carbon intensive loads associated with bitcoin mining have grown, thereby contributing to growing worldwide carbon emissions. In this context, the role of cryptocurrency and particularly bitcoin is reviewed from energy and social perspectives. Revealed is the value of a truly neutral and secure currency to much of the world. Also revealed is a growing trend toward powering cryptocurrency miners with renewable energy. In this context, an opportunity for leveraging cryptocurrency, and particularly bitcoin, to fuel investment in solar micro- and mini grids. A number of cases are posed to demonstrate this potential throughout the world and at multiple scales. These include: i). existing microgrids with significant stranded energy to generate income which could be used to reduce the cost per kWh for the community; ii). new solar microgrids optimized to meet community load and mining operations; (iii) solar microgrid powered water purification systems in water scarce communities; (iv) dedicated solar powered bitcoin mining mini grids developed solely to create a funding stream for self-investment of communities for their benefit; and (v) numerous applications where bitcoin mining inclusion in micro- and mini grids can effectively seed microgrid development in places where such investment is not yet feasible. All of these projects are shown to be impact investment worthy.
Bitcoin, cryptourrency, carbon load, environmental sustainability, impact investment
Climate | Natural Resource Economics | Sustainability
Hallinan, Kevin; Hao, Lu; Mulford, Rydge; Bower, Lauren; Russell, Kaitlin; Mitchell, Austin; Schroeder, Alan; Kuzhin, Rustam; Naikkhua, Mohammad Ehsan; Arya, Rohulla; Ehsani, Sayed; and Shukla, Rishabh, "Review of the Energy and Social Impact of Bitcoin Mining and Transactions and Its Potential Use as a Productive Use of Energy (PUE) to Aid Equitable Investment in Solar Micro and Mini Grids Worldwide" (2022). Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Working Papers. 1.