You have probably already heard some people complain that Bitcoin (BTC) is simply too energy intensive. However, that is hard to measure without actual numbers, right? How much energy Bitcoin actually spent last year? As much as Hungary, it seems.
A new report made by Alex de Vries, a Netherlands-based researcher of one of the four largest audit companies in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), has studied how much global energy Bitcoin consumed and he found out that Bitcoin spent as much energy as countries like Hungary or Switzerland, for instance.
As all the process of Bitcoin is made by computers as the network needs to make complex calculations in order to solve problems to confirm the transactions, mining operations generate heat and sometimes use a lot of power supplies like fossil power plants. This has caused an argument that never ends, whether Bitcoin is too much energy intensive to be a solution or not.
Banks, on the other hand, are said to be even more hazardous to the environment, Bitcoin enthusiasts affirm, however, when you take into account how much they actually spend on their whole infrastructure, not only in the actual operations.
De Vries stood with the Bitcoin skeptics, though. According to him, the currency is 12,000 times more energy intensive than banks. He did not take into account the other ways in which banks are energy-intensive, though, neither the fact that Bitcoin transactions do not need so much infrastructure because they are decentralized.
One of the main worries that the researcher had, though, is that even hydroelectric stations in Sichuan, China, which had a lot of energy because of the rain season, had to go and offer other alternatives of energy to miners because they spent so much energy.
These findings, De Vries affirms, show that even the renewable energy used to mine Bitcoin cannot be fully considered green. This, he affirms, would create a challenge for producing renewable energy and it could even incentive more coal-based power plants to be created.
Another Researcher Deems The Studies to Be Fundamentally Flawed
Not everybody agrees with De Vries, however. For instance, Eric Masanet, an energy modeling researcher from Northwestern University, has affirmed that most Bitcoin studies related to energy consumption had fundamental flaws.
He also affirmed that the energy sector was taking important steps in decarbonizing its industry, which would have a positive effect on global warming. According to him, creating policies that diminish the use of carbon-based supplies would eventually lead Bitcoin to use green energy and these facts should not be ignored.
Masanet affirms that De Vries and the other authors have overlooked these trends and that, because of them, even with Bitcoin being energy intensive as it is, there are ways to mine it without harming the environment so much.