The famous cryptocurrency Bitcoin can die of success, or 'kill' us in the attempt given its high energy consumption. And is that one of the strengths of electronic currency, its security, is turning out to be one of its weaknesses, since it requires huge amounts of energy to be insurmountable. In this sense, it is estimated that the consumption derived from the operation of Bitcoin is already similar to that of a country like Denmark, a fact that raises alarms about the sustainability of the cryptocurrency.
The explanation for this problem lies in the very operation of Bitcoin, which relies on 'miners' as a fundamental part of the virtual currency scheme. These miners offer their computers to solve the algorithms that are used to carry out transactions between Bitcoin users and to guarantee the security of these. In this way, the first 'miner' to solve these calculations or block of transactions is rewarded with 12.5 new Bitcoins plus the transaction fee.
But the extraction of this cryptocurrency is not as profitable as it might seem as indicated in the 1and1 digital guide: “As a reward for its mining work, the processor receives a certain amount of Bitcoins, something that certainly seems lucrative at first glance. However, it should be borne in mind that the hardware and maintenance costs are much higher than the profits that can be obtained from mining, which is also due to the high competition ”.
It is precisely this competition, together with the unstoppable increase in the value of the cryptocurrency, which has gone from $ 1,000 to almost $ 20,000 in just one year, which means that hardware with greater computing capacity (and greater energy expenditure). In turn, the number of computers bidding to solve the calculations necessary to make Bitcoin work is also increasing. This forward flight is the only way that miners have to make the extraction of Bitcoins profitable, since in addition, every four years the reward for such activity is reduced by half.
An Exacerbated Electricity Consumption That Doesn't Stop Growing
Thus, this fever for Bitcoins is being translated into a brutal increase in electricity consumption, as reported by the website digiconomist.net, which has bothered to calculate electricity consumption per Bitcoin mined. According to the study, mining a Bitcoin consumes about 200 kWh, which would be equivalent to the consumption of a house for a whole month. Grotesque amount when compared with the energy cost of a transaction through Visa that reaches a ridiculous 0.01 kWh; 20,000 times less consumption than the cryptocurrency created by the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto.
As a result, it is estimated that the electricity cost of Bitcoin reaches 34 TWh, an amount that is almost equal to countries such as Bulgaria or Denmark. On the other hand, the ecological footprint would be about 17,000 tons of CO2 To make matters worse, the predictions are not at all promising, and if the current course is followed, the electricity consumption of Bitcoin will be equivalent to the global electricity consumption in 2020. This fact would cause an environmental catastrophe and even more knowing that most of the Bitcoins are They mine in China, a country that feeds its electricity network from highly polluting plants.
However, to avoid the catastrophe, a possible change of algorithm in the electronic currency is foreseen that will lower its high electricity demand. However, a consensus of 51% of users is needed for another operating model to take effect. On the other hand, and fortunately, there are numerous cryptocurrencies that are much more sustainable and committed against climate change such as Solarcoin: “The ultimate goal of SolarCoin is to leave a reliable and independent record of the contribution that each solar installation is making in the fight against climate change and at the same time reward the owners of these facilities for their contribution and limit the dependence and risk of state subsidies ”.