University of Pittsburgh Researcher: Bitcoin Mining Energy Usage “Oversimplified”

The cryptocurrency industry is almost a decade old, and one of the biggest complaints that have recently arisen for the Bitcoin home has been for the excessive electricity that mining requires. There is a suggestion from one researcher that this debate does not account for the way that the electricity is used, and it pays no attention to the way that it has evolved.

Obviously, mining and other processes in the Bitcoin network use a lot of electricity to run, and studies on this topic have even revealed that it uses more energy than Ireland goes through in a year alone. However, these statistics are largely skewed, and have been brought up to try and shed a negative light on the progress. There’s even experts that say that even mining for a few more years will be enough to evoke an “environmental disaster,” but there’s one loud voice that is stampeding through to bring comfort.

Katrina Kelly-Pitou comes from the University of Pittsburgh as a researcher, and her article that outlined her take on these details was posted to The Conversation today. Her main field of expertise is electrical and computer engineering, and she has said that the “conversation around Bitcoin and energy has been oversimplified.” Rather than just making a statement and leaving it at that, she actually has multiple facts to support her side of the argument.

In her article, she starts off by discussing the inefficiency of any new technology, like data centers and even computers. However, the point of technology is to establish a starting point and move forward from there, which takes time to work out the kinks until the more effective option is discovered.

She continues, bringing up how important it is to have renewable energy systems involved with Bitcoin mining. All of these reports constantly talk about energy usage, but there has yet to be a discussion that evolves enough to ask if any of this energy comes from renewable sources, or if it comes from fossil fuels. Recent reports show that Bitcoin is moving away from areas that do not typically support non-renewable energy, like China, and that they are gravitating towards those with cleaner energy resources, like Iceland.

Comparatively, Kelly-Pitou shows how the banking industry is actually a bigger drain on energy resources than cryptocurrency as a whole. It is important to note that Bitcoin still has a significantly smaller number of users, but the hashing power of their network is active and secure enough to meet the needs of users, if they were equal.

Based on the details that Kelly-Pitou brings up, it is clear that a financial system that centers around Bitcoin, or even just their principles, could preserve much more energy than the public believes right now. In fact, they could even create an efficiency that surpasses that of banks as well. Though the current infrastructure in place could prolong the amount of time that Bitcoin has to wait, this could be an example of a technology that is still working to reach its potential.

Wrapping up the article, Kelly-Pitou leaves readers with a final thought, saying,

“So perhaps people should quit criticizing bitcoin for its energy intensity and start criticizing states and nations for still providing new industries with dirty power supplies instead.”

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