Bitcoin's Energy Cost Is Huge and Growing

Chris Ratcliffe  Bloomberg — Getty Images

As bitcoin grows, the math problems computers must solve to make more bitcoin (a process called "mining") get more and more hard - a wrinkle created to control the currency's supply. A recent article in Grist by Eric Holthaus argues that bitcoin is slowing the effort to achieve a rapid transition from fossil fuels.

The bitcoin network requires a tremendous amount of electricity. Already, the aggregate computing power of the bitcoin network is almost 100,000 times larger than the world's 500 fastest supercomputers combined. As bitcoin develops, the math problems PCs must fathom to make more bitcoin (a procedure called "mining") get increasingly troublesome-a wrinkle meant to control the cash's supply. Bitcoin mining is using huge amounts of power As time goes by the computing power required to solve the mathematical problems that allow a block to be added to the block chain become more complicated and require more computer power which in turn requires more electrical power.

If you're interested in learning more about bitcoin mining it might be worth jumping over to the Instrutables websites in the link below which explains the process of Raspberry Pi Bitcoin Mining in detail and takes you through setting up your own system. You might be interested in the videos below which show how to use your Raspberry Pi mini PC together with a few pieces of software and a little bit of extra kit to start mining for crypto currency. Every Bitcoin transaction requBres an enormous amount of computing power to pull off, and those calculations aren't free. Grist also claims that the aggregate power of the bitcoin network is almost 100,000 times larger than the world's 500 fastest supercomputers combined.

Bitcoin has been in the limelight for years, but in the last few months it has been rapidly increasing in value. Grist claims that by July 2019 the bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire U.S. and by February 2020 it will use as much electricity as the entire world.

That sort of electricity use is pulling energy from grids all over the world, where it could be charging electric vehicles and powering homes, to bitcoin-mining farms. It is reported portal Power Compare. However, bitcoin mining uses more energy than Ireland or Nigeria as well as many other countries. More than 150 individual countries in the world consume less energy annually.

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It's certain that the increasing energy burden of bitcoin transactions will divert progress from electrifying the world and reducing global carbon emissions. Costs of mining would be enough, for example, to provide electricity to about 2.4 million Americans, or 6.1 million British. As Ars Technica points out, the energy cost could level off or even drop if the price of Bitcoin tanks.

Bitcoin is the new "thing" in the market.

If you had bought $100 in bitcoin back in 2011, your investment would be worth almost $4 million today. Another factor is that there are a limited number of coins to be mined.

If you're like me, you've probably been ignoring the bitcoin phenomenon for years - because it seemed too complex, far-fetched, or maybe even too libertarian. It will become more and more expensive to mine them as difficulty of math problems increase.

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