New Crypto Mining Research Attempts to Sound the Alarm on Bitcoin’s Proof of Work Energy Usage
Crypto Mining Is More Energy Intensive Than Mining Any Other Material
A shocking report by a British Journal Nature Sustainability shows that in the past two years, cryptocurrency mining has generated between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon emissions. Additionally, the research even found out that mining Bitcoin requires more electricity than the traditional mining of any other material.
Mining $1 of bitcoin and Monero consumed more energy (17 and 14 megajoules, respectively), compared to Ethereum and Litecoin (both 7 MJ on average). Meanwhile, the conventional mining of $1 worth various physical metals required less energy — rare earth metals (9 MJ), precious metals (7 MJ), gold (5 MJ), and copper (4 MJ). The only exception is aluminum, which required 122 MJ.
The co-authors, Krause and Tolaymat, say that during the 2.5-year period, the four cryptocurrency networks (bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero) generated between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon emissions (1 metric ton is equivalent to 1.1 US tons).
“At least for that two-and-a-half-year period, mining a dollars’ worth of bitcoin took about three times as much energy as mining a dollars’ worth of gold. I was shocked to see that the numbers were so high,” Krause stated.
Although, the report overlooks the point that a lot has changed in cryptocurrency over the course of the examined tenure. Distinctly that mining is rapidly spreading outside of China. With mining rig executives endeavoring into cheapest energy possible. Many have settled in Canada because of the abundant hydroelectric resources or Iceland with its geothermal energy.
However, the author admitted that the environmental repercussions of a Bitcoin mining are far less than that of a physical metal that needs shaping, transporting, and storing in ways that are not needed for the intangible assets.
It is important to remember that most transformative technologies start off as being inefficient. We have to iterate it to make it better. For example to deal with Bitcoin’s energy inefficient Proof of Work algorithm can be replaced by proof of stake. Ethereum is already working on this problem.