At Tesla it is no longer possible to pay with bitcoins, CEO Elon Musk reported this week on Twitter.

The company is concerned about the currency's significant environmental impact.

But how bad is the crypto currency actually for the climate?

"Cryptocurrency is a good idea in many ways and we do see a future in it. But it shouldn't be at the expense of the environment," Musk wrote on Twitter earlier this week.

He was referring to the rising energy consumption of bitcoin.

According to an estimate by the University of Cambridge that he added, about 151 TWh of electricity is needed for the bitcoin annually.

That's a hugely abstract number.

To put it in perspective, bitcoin's electricity consumption is similar to that of countries such as Egypt and Poland.

According to the university, with 108.8 TWh per year, even less electricity is consumed in the Netherlands than is needed for bitcoin.

Computer systems puzzle day and night

That electricity is needed to

mine

or

mine

bitcoin

.

Bitcoin works on the basis of the blockchain, a kind of collective logbook in which all participants together keep track of all transactions.

That register is updated every ten minutes with a new 'page' with the latest changes.

In order to safely handle any supplement, a complex mathematical formula must be solved.

Worldwide, special computer systems are puzzling or

mining

all day long

.

Whoever solves the formula is rewarded in bitcoin.

A lucrative job, since 1 bitcoin is worth more than 50,000 dollars (more than 41,000 euros) at the time of writing, but it costs a lot of electricity.

Gold industry is also not climate-friendly

Proponents of bitcoin say that the amount of electricity that the crypto coin needs is not that bad if you look at other things.

For example, mining gold is not exactly a climate-friendly job.

The gold industry produces between 2,500 and 3,000 tons of new gold annually and consumes 475 million gigajoules of electricity, according to Don Wyper, COO of the American crypto platform DigitalMint.

That equates to approximately 132 TWh, which is slightly less than the bitcoin.

Crypto industry wants to become more sustainable

In addition, an industry that consumes electricity does not necessarily have to be bad for the climate.

A poll conducted by the University of Cambridge found that 39 percent of the computer systems that solve the complex mathematical formulas for bitcoin run on renewable energy.

Nevertheless, the Dutch blockchain specialist Alex de Vries estimates the annual emissions of bitcoin at approximately 90 million tons of CO2.

That is comparable to the emissions of the metropolitan area of ​​London, where more than fourteen million people live.

However, this should change in the long term, the sector itself believes.

Last month, the major crypto players signed the Crypto Climate Accord, in which they agree to be climate neutral by 2040.

And that's exactly what Musk hopes for.

His company Tesla has not sold the bitcoin it has, and hopes to make transactions with bitcoin possible again in the future, if the currency is more climate-friendly.