Debunking The “Bitcoin’s Electricity Consumption” Problem

Bitcoin’s price has been rising at a rapid rate in the recent months. With the increase in bitcoin’s price, more and more companies are looking at the opportunity of setting up bitcoin mining operations. Several media outlets have regarded bitcoin mining as a waste of energy and have expressed their fear about the future of electricity consumption by bitcoin mining. In this article, I will try to debunk these fears and try to explain why bitcoin’s electricity consumption shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

How Bitcoin Mining Works?

Bitcoin mining is a process of solving a cryptographic puzzle which requires computer processing. As more devices join the bitcoin mining operation, the puzzle becomes more difficult and requires more processing and as devices leave the bitcoin mining operation, the puzzle becomes easier and requires less processing. The miner who solves the puzzle is allowed to create a block which is then added to the bitcoin’s blockchain and broadcasted to everyone who is using bitcoin. These blocks include transactions that are then validated by bitcoin nodes.

In return to the power spent by miner, the miner is awarded 12.5 bitcoin plus the sum of fees of all the transactions that he included in his block. This process secures the bitcoin blockchain from attacks from large entities that can try to push invalid blocks to the bitcoin blockchain securing the bitcoin ledger.

Debunking The “Bitcoin’s Electricity Consumption” Problem

A recent article by Motherboard compared Bitcoin’s electricity usage to Visa’s Electricity usage. The post claimed that Visa’s datacenters can process 1000 times more transactions per second with the same amount of electricity that bitcoin uses.

The argument seems fair but the reality is different. Bitcoin’s power consumption has nothing to do with bitcoin’s throughput. Bitcoin can process same amount of transactions with 1000 times less electricity than it is using right now. More electricity does not mean more transactions processed per second. Bitcoin’s scale is limited by its technology rather than electricity. More miners means more security for the bitcoin network and not more transactions processed per second. The electricity consumed by the bitcoin miners goes towards securing the bitcoin’s blockchain’s immutability.

Also rather than comparing bitcoin to Visa or any other company, Bitcoin should be compared to the traditional money or internet since bitcoin is not a company rather it is a network. And we all know that securing bitcoin leaves far less footprints than producing and securing cash or securing the internet.

As Andreas Antouplous says, “Immutability is not a waste of energy. Christmas lights are a waste of energy”

Conclusion

With the increase in adoption of bitcoin, we will start seeing IOT devices that will allow normal devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, heaters etc. to do all the bitcoin mining operations. This will allow bitcoin to drift away from traditional ASIC mining which currently only secures bitcoin to more efficient mining schemes which aside from securing bitcoin does traditional household jobs too. This is still a long way from where we are.

Let us know what you think about The “Bitcoin’s Electricity Consumption” Problem in the comments below.

 

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Shivam Chawla

Following CryptoCurrencies since 2013. Investor in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. If you like my articles, follow me at http://twitter.com/shivamchawla243 or donate Bitcoin at : 3E1vJTdKqBPewSepnVNjsoy7MPQonwy8X4

4 thoughts on “Debunking The “Bitcoin’s Electricity Consumption” Problem

  • December 7, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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    Why exactly would a refrigerator run a mining software? And if all the new internet-connected objects start mining then electricity consumption would go way up instead of down as the article claims. Unless the energy consuming proof of work algorithm is replaced by a an energy savvy proof of stake one.

    Reply
    • December 7, 2017 at 12:39 pm
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      Proof of stake algorithm has some disadvantages over proof of work system like possibility of ddos attacks, bad for consensus etc. Ethereum is switching a modified POS algorithm next year which will be interesting to look at.

      The advantages of household devices mining crypto is that those devices already consume a set amount of electricity per day and adding a mining system might prove to be efficient to some of them. More efficient mining means less electricity consumption.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2017 at 12:17 am
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    Wow, that’s some amazing ‘debunking’ right there — try again, this is just hilarious, not a single argument.
    You yourself have to PROVE that “Bitcoin can process same amount of transactions with 1000 times less electricity than it is using right now”.
    Oh and bitcoin is limited by its technology? So let’s do another fork of it! 🤣Hilarious

    Reply
    • December 8, 2017 at 3:56 am
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      The purpose of this article was to debunk the wrongful calculations and comparison done in the motherboard article that started all this stupid discussion.

      It is correct that bitcoin uses electricity but the benefits that bitcoin provides far outweighs the mere costs of electricity production and will in turn benefit the environment one day by disrupting the current industries that damages the environment in much more destructive ways.

      Reply

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