There have been numerous discussions on how much electricity Bitcoin mining really uses. The studies on this topic paint very different pictures, although they share a few similarities. The most recent study claims that Bitcoin mining will consume 0.5% of the world’s electricity by year’s end. That’s a somewhat worrisome statistic, albeit one that isn’t based on all the facts.
Bitcoin Mining is a Power-hungry Industry
No one can deny that there is vast electricity usage associated with mining Bitcoin. This is not just the case with Bitcoin, though, as it applies to virtually all cryptocurrencies these days. Anything that requires hefty computational work will need a lot of electricity. Supercomputers are no different in this regard.
Even so, Bitcoin mining attracts a lot of negative attention because of its electricity requirements. A new study by a Dutch specialist claims that the Bitcoin mining industry will consume as much as 0.5% of the world’s electricity by late 2018. While that may sound rather problematic, it is not necessarily a major concern when looking at the bigger picture.
This study bases its findings on the contention that the current Bitcoin mining ecosystem uses as much electricity as the country of Ireland. That particular claim has been subject to a lot of controversy and scrutiny, as it is very loosely based on facts and involves some calculations which seemingly don’t add up. Using that study as a basis for subsequent claims regarding Bitcoin mining’s electricity usage will only lead to more confusion and misinformation.
There is no adequate way of predicting how much electricity will be used by the Bitcoin mining industry by late 2018. Most of the calculations made in this regard are based on partial information, speculation, and some desire to make Bitcoin mining look extremely bad. A scientific discussion regarding this topic seemingly makes a lot of sense, but since the research is often derived from incomplete findings by someone else, the issues are only compounded even further.
Additionally, studies like these tend to overlook one critical aspect of Bitcoin mining. The use of renewable energy should not be overlooked by any means. Successfully mining Bitcoin for profit requires the use of the cheapest electricity source available. Right now, renewable energy fits the bill perfectly. This is part of the reason why so many mining operations are set up in regions with an abundance of renewable energy.
How all of this will evolve moving forward is anybody’s guess at this stage. Global interest in mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not slowing down, even though individual users face a tough time turning a profit. Additionally, currencies such as Ethereum will switch to proof-of-stake at some point, completely removing the mining aspect. Those factors are, once again, being overlooked by a study pertaining to Bitcoin mining’s electricity usage.