There are many cryptocurrencies out there, but none are as mainstream and well known as Bitcoin. Despite the coin only existing online, it takes up quite a lot of real life energy. According to Alex de Vries, a data consultant, globally combined, bitcoin transactions take up more electricity than 159 individual countries.
Miners verify each and every bitcoin transaction. Miners collect records into groups called block and they all complete to get their block on a chain of record. One block is randomly selected about every ten minutes and the miner gets a prize of more bitcoins.
Alex de Vries has used a Bitcoin Energy Index and has come up with bitcoin’s energy cost. The amount of computer power that goes into submitting those numbers is off the charts. The energy consumption used during the mining process is massive.
Many are probably wondering why would bitcoin needs so much energy. Alex de Vries has the answer. “The energy costs are part of the reason why bitcoin is so secure, because if [someone] wants to attack the system, they would need the machines and would have to spend a huge amount of money to pay for all the electricity to simply take control of the network. So, in essence, it’s really part of what makes bitcoin secure.”
De Vries has compared the energy consumed by Bitcoin to the average US residential rate. The average residential rate is about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, whereas creating one bitcoin needs about 50,000 kilowatt-hours. Those figures already speak volumes about the damage this is doing to the environment, yet keep in mind that most bitcoin miners are from China and it means worse.
De Vries commented on the issue. “China doesn’t have a very clean electricity grid. From several miners, we know that they are located very near to coal-based power plants, so they are drawing a lot of coal-based electricity. That causes the carbon footprint of each bitcoin transaction to be gigantic, as well.”