The U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) is now requiring large-scale commercial cryptocurrency mining operations to report their power consumption. This initiative is part of a larger effort to regulate and penalize cryptocurrency mining due to the exorbitant amount of energy the industry consumes yearly. For now, the EIA is only collecting data, but this new data should give birth to new regulations that will penalize miners in the future. This comes as the company has released a study (first reported on by Inside Climate News) suggesting that cryptocurrency mining represents up to 2.3% of U.S. power demand.
“We intend to continue to analyze and write about the energy implications of cryptocurrency mining activities in the United States…,” EIA administratior Joe DeCarolis said in a release in January. “We will specifically focus on how the energy demand for cryptocurrency mining is evolving, identify geographic areas of high growth, and quantify the sources of electricity used to meet cryptocurrency mining demand.”
DeCarolis’ words summarize that the United States will pay close attention to the environmental challenges cryptocurrency mining might be causing. We can surmise that the United States government specifically wants to crack down on mining operations that impact the reliability and sustainability of power in highly populated areas. Potentially leading to higher residential power costs and power shortage issues during peak hours. As of January 2024, the EIA has identified 137 cryptomining facilities.
The EIA found that crypto-mining operations in the United States has grown substantially over the past few years, to the point where all U.S-based crypto-mining operations consume 0.6% to 2.3% of the nation’s entire electricity consumption alone. For comparison, the total U.S. Bitcoin mining industry consumes the annual power budget of Utah or West Virginia. The estimated power draw of Bitcoin mining worldwide is projected to be anywhere between 0.2% to 0.9% of global demand, equating to the same power draw as Greece or Australia by themselves.