Bitcoin Mining “Consumes As Much Energy As Ireland” Myth Debunked
Dutch researcher Alex de Vries recently published a study titled “Bitcoin’s Growing Energy Problem” where he concluded that the Bitcoin network consumes as much electricity as the entire nation of Ireland.
He estimates that the network uses 2.55 gigawatts of electricity and predicts that in the future this amount may reach 7.67 gigawatts. That is a massive amount of energy as the nation of Austria consumes around 8.2 gigawatts.
However, some experts say that the claims made in the report are an exaggeration. In the 1990’s, some experts were sounding the alarm that half of the U.S. electrical grid would be required to power the entire Internet. But in the end, it amounted to nothing and the team of Jonathan Koomey proved that these projections were overblown. They were vindicated when a 2011 study showed that data centers of the world only used 2% of the U.S.' electricity production.
Koomey is one of those experts who have debunked the claims made by Alex de Vries. He thinks that one of the reasons for these concerned and exaggerated claims is because bitcoin is new to the market and there is no a lot of credible information that can be used to measured its energy consumption.
In a statement, Koomey said
For two decades, people have been eager to overestimate electricity use by computing. My concern is that we simply don't have adequate data to come to the strong conclusions that he's coming to.
According to Koomey, the results of de Vries' study are inaccurate because of a few problems in his underlying assumption. First is how de Vries calculates the energy value used in Bitcoin mining and its monetary value. Koomey thinks that these two numbers seem to be too arbitrary, making calculations using them unreliable.
De Vries was not able to comment on Koomey's criticisms, but he did admit in a press release that he had to resort to less-than-rigorous math during the study. He does stress a need for further research in the field.
Governments Also Concerned About Energy Consumption
De Vries is not the only who is worried about Bitcoin consuming all those gigawatts. With the increased popularity of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, there is a growing concern about the increased energy usage required to power all the thousands of computing systems that form the backbone of the cryptocurrency networks.
The main problem is that to produce Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies requires "mining" which can consume a lot of computer processing power as they try to confirm transactions and add them to the public ledger. There have been several studies already about how much energy is required to power the entire network, but no two reports have been alike. The only thing they agree on is that the energy demands are expected to increase as more people want cryptocurrencies.
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