Does Mining a Single Bitcoin Consume the Same Amount of Electricity as Your Weekly Home Usage?
According to a new report by Vice, Bitcoin’s mining costs have been increasing steadily over the past few months, so much so that the currency now reportedly consumes the same amount of electricity that it takes to power an average household for an entire week.
For those of our readers who may not be aware, Bitcoin mining is a largely automated process that involves the procuration of a particular hash value that “solves” a block of transaction data. It then adds this information to an ever-growing chain of blocks that are referred to as— you guessed it— “the blockchain”.
So How Energy Intensive Is This Entire Process?
According to research data made available by altcoin analyst Alex de Vries (also known within crypto circles as the Digiconomist):
“ It would be profitable for Bitcoin miners to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic puzzles to “mine” more Bitcoins.”
To put things into perspective, that's the same amount of energy that a country like Nigeria (that has a population of around 185 million) consumes within a period of 365 days.
Other Statistical Data Worth Considering
- Each Bitcoin transaction uses around 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of energy.
- The average American household consumes 901 KWh per month.
- A single BTC transfer uses the same amount of electricity that would normally be needed to power an entire family of around 5 days.
- At any given moment, the total amount of electricity being consumed by bitcoin miners worldwide can be used to power more than 2.20 million American homes.
A Closer Look at Bitcoin’s Impact on the Environment?
With all of the figures that have been presented above, it is also worth looking at BTC’s total environmental impact on the planet.
For starters, we can see that since the year 2015, the premier altcoin has been consuming an amount of electricity that is much higher when compared to conventional digital payment systems. This is in part due to the dollar price of Bitcoin being “directly proportional to the amount of electricity that can profitably be used to mine it”. As a result of this, the more the price of the altcoin rises, the more the computing power required to procure new Bitcoin becomes.
With that being said, it is actually impossible to calculate exactly how much power the Bitcoin network actually consumes on an annual basis. However, according to a recent study, the minimum amount of electricity that BTC mining operations require on a regular basis is equal to the daily power needs of “821,940 average American homes”.
Other Key Info Worth Remembering
- Global Bitcoin mining operations amount to a minimum of 77KWh of energy consumed per Bitcoin transaction.
- The mining of a single BTC token can lead to an emission of 8,000 to 13,000 kg CO2 (which works out to around 24,000 – 40,000 kg of CO2 per hour.)
How Can Bitcoin Reduce Its Negative Impact On The Environment?
Talking with a respected media outlet recently, De Vries was asked whether it would be possible for miners to scale up their operations without hurting the global energy market in an adverse manner. On the matter, De Vries was quoted as saying:
“Blockchain is inefficient tech by design, as we create trust by building a system based on distrust. If you only trust yourself and a set of rules (the software), then you have to validate everything that happens against these rules yourself. That is the life of a blockchain node,”
What this basically means is that in order to achieve a high level of functionality, the Bitcoin ecosystem will always require a sizeable amount of electricity. Not only that, proposed changes like SegWit2x also aim to increase the number of native BTC tx’s to twice the amount.
With all of the information that has been laid out in this article, it now remains to be seen how we can optimize the Bitcoin ecosystem so that it can become more environmentally friendly and less energy exhausting.