4 can serve as a proxy for the actual mining locations
, even though it may over or underestimate mining activity in certain countries. The mining pool data likely overestimates the share of Bitcoin’s global computational power located in Ireland and Germany. This is because miners can disguise their activities with virtual private networks
(VPNs) and other proxy services if they reside in countries hostile to crypto mining. The CCAF noted that there is little evidence of large mining operations within German and Irish borders. Germany and Ireland both have relatively clean electricity sources compared to other Bitcoin mining locations. Excluding and redistributing the share of Bitcoin's total global computational power located in Germany and Ireland would increase the average emission factor by 3% to 573.51 gCO
/kWh (see Supplemental Data Sheet 6). The average emission factor would likely increase further if a breakdown of mining activities in Canada was considered. Such a specification is currently not available, but it is known that the Black Rock Petroleum Company announced the deployment of up to 1 million Bitcoin mining machines on gas- producing sites in Alberta in July 2021. With a carbon intensity of 790 gCO
/kWh, the emission factor for Alberta is much higher than the Canadian average of 130 gCO
/kWh. Moreover, Quebec—which relies almost exclusively on renewable electricity sources—already limited the power available to crypto miners to 688 megawatts in 2019. Furthermore, emission factors remain a key source of uncertainty in estimates of cryptocurrency emissions.
As there is often a time lag of one to two years until emission factors are published
, emission factors over 2019 were used as a proxy for 2021 emission factors. This might slightly over- or underestimate the actual emission factors in 2021. There was, however, no clear upward or downward trend in emission factors over the last two years. The carbon intensity of global power generation grew in 2021 after a decline in 2020 due to surging electricity demand.
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