As Bitcoin continues its journey towards the halving, an analyst warns of the possible increase in obsolete miners, with the estimate rising to over 98% of the total mining hardware. Moreover, the subsequent dumping of the miners is set to increase the levels of e-waste across the globe. How clean is the world’s first energy-intensive currency?
Over 98% of the total BTC miners set to become obsolete
According to an interview with Telegraph, Alex de Vries, the founder of the Digiconomist, stated the amounts of power Bitcoin (BTC) required during mining is set to boost as the equipment becomes better in computations. However, the market will faze out almost 98% of the current mining equipment from the shelves as most of the miners upgrade to better hardware such as the new Antminer S17+ devices. He said,
“The shocking thing is the average lifetime of a bitcoin mining machine is one and a half years, because we have a new generation of machines which are better at doing these calculations. That means it’s impossible for 98 percent of the devices during their lifetime to make the calculation that actually results in a reward. So the rest are just running pointlessly for a few years, using up energy, and producing heat, and then they will just get trashed because they can’t be repurposed. It's insane.”
However, as the mining equipment becomes useless, then miners will dump the machines creating more hazards in terms of e-waste. According to the survey an estimated 4 billion rigs are involved in the verification of transactions yet a shocking 98% never get to verify any transactions. This is despite the staggering amounts of power that goes into powering the rigs. Equating the electricity that is used in a single transaction would be enough to power a home in Britain for 59 days, 776,101 Visa transactions or even 51,740 hours of video streaming on YouTube.
“They are sort of participating in a massive lottery and every 10 minutes one gets lucky and gets to produce the next block.”
His sentiments of a lot of wastage are occurring by powering these rigs are not entirely true. This is because he failed to consider how mining pools operate and the security onsets offered by the large hash power in the BTC network.
Halving to forcefully retire over 70% of the rigs
With halving of the BTC network imminent it is predicted that close to 70% of the rigs currently in place will be obsolete. There have been reports of large miners such as Bitmain bracing for the halving by upgrading their machines to the latest model the new Antminer s17+.
This means that most of the old rigs will probably end up being waste due to the specific nature of their role. The survey places the amount of e-waste produced as a result of mining activities that would match that produced by Luxemburg which is estimated at 10 kilotons annually.
Texas has turned to a miners’ haven as the electricity is quite cheap there, with Bitmain’s largest mining farm (100 MW) located there with Frankfurt-based Northern Bitcoin already in works to build a bigger facility. In production volume, Texas produces excess amounts of electricity as they are arguably among the largest producers of wind energy.