Extracting cryptocurrencies is consuming more energy than some nations. New data on energy absorption of cryptocurrencies.
According to a new international study, for to extract cryptocurrency worth one dollar, it takes three times more energy than to extract gold of the same value as one dollar. Blame? The exhaustion of managing and consuming server farms managed by an unknown number of crypto 'miner' machines that work 24 hours a day to produce more calculations on the blockchain.
It follows that the environmental impact of these enormous needs of cryptocurrency processing has yet to be properly considered, so much so that the global extraction of bitcoin has exceeded the energy consumption of entire nations. "We now have a completely new industry that consumes more energy per year than many countries," said Max Krause, a researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education and author of a new study in the journal Nature Sustainability. A few examples?
According to the study, Denmark consumed 2015 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 31,4; but as of July 1, 2018, bitcoin mining worldwide had already consumed around 30,1 billion kilowatt hours in just six months. A 2017 estimate of the energy consumption of operations bitcoin extraction all over the world it places it on a par with the consumption of the Republic of Ireland.
“We wanted to spread awareness of the potentials Costs environmental aspects of cryptocurrency miningKrause added. "Just because a digital product is being created, this does not mean that it does not consume a great deal of energy to make it" - he continued.
Cryptocurrency mining can be done from individual devices, but more often it is done in companies that include hundreds or thousands of machines, which perform immense calculations in search of digital treasures. It is a first-past-the-post system, with the "miners" being rewarded in a potentially perfumed way, although it is becoming increasingly difficult to seek marginality in such a context.
Krause and his colleague Thabet Tolaymat, an environmental engineer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, then calculated the basic energy cost (measured in megajoules or MJ) to produce the dollar value of the four major crypto currencies - bitcoin (17MJ) , ethereum (7MJ), litecoin (7MJ) and monero (24MJ) - over a period of 30 months until June 2018. These are numbers greater than the energy required to obtain the dollar equivalent of gold (5MJ), platinum (7MJ) or copper (4MJ), while only aluminum (122MJ) is more energy intensive.
"The comparison was made to quantify and contextualize the decentralized demand for energy that the extraction of these cryptocurrencies requires," write the authors, "and to encourage the debate on the sustainability and adequacy of this energy demand, given the product that results from a relatively similar energy consumption (if normalized by the market price) ".
In addition, the researchers took into account the changes in the environmental footprint depending on the place of extraction of the currencies; the vast majority of bitcoin mining, for example, takes place in China.