In a recent article published in The Conversation [non-profit academic media outlet], Dr. Katrina M. Research Associate, Resilient Energy and Power Systems at the Swanson School of Engineering discusses Bitcoin and recent talks revolving around Bitcoin’s energy consumption.
Katrina, also known as Kelly-Pitou, believes that discussions revolving around Bitcoin and energy has been oversimplified and is unfair without understanding the energy intensity of new technologies in general. She says:
“New technologies – such as data centers, computers and before them trains, planes and automobiles – are often energy-intensive. Over time, all of these have become more efficient, a natural progression of any technology: Saving energy equates to saving costs.”
Earlier in May 2018, an article published by Forbes quoted that “Bitcoin’s need for electricity is its Achilles heel,” claiming that Bitcoin uses about as much energy as the Czech Republic uses in totality and usage will increase in the future. The article said:
“Bitcoin mining globally uses about as much energy as the Czech Republic. This is to process [currently] about 2.5 transactions per second. Proof of Work might be better named “Proof of [Electricity] Waste.” Furthermore, if the Bitcoin price rises further – as many have predicted – electricity consumption will also rise. This is a feature, not a bug. The difficulty adjustment is intended to increase electricity usage and hence mining cost as Bitcoin’s price rises.”
In contrary to the above, Kelly-Pitou believes that by concentrating on consumption of energy alone, people are failing to understand the advantages that the renewable energy systems provide.
“Electricity production can increase while still maintaining a minimal impact on the environment. “
According to her research, Bitcoin requires a lot of computational power. Electricity is 90 percent of the cost to mine Bitcoin. In the year 2017 alone, the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining was between an estimated 30 terawatt hours. She argues that the electricity consumption has not gone overboard. In her words:
“Indeed, this is a lot, but not exorbitant.”
Moreover, she claimed that Bitcoin’s energy consumption will only be 2 percent of the entire energy consumption even if it multiplies 100 times more than its current market size.
In Kelly’s opinion, one must question and discuss the carbon production of Bitcoin. In her article, she also speaks about how Bitcoin miners are moving to areas with cheap power like Pacific Northwest China, and regions of Europe. So, the target must be to evaluate the comparative carbon footprint of the Bitcoin process she says.
Furthermore, she says that the world must concentrate on finding out who is producing the electricity and where it comes from. She conclusively said:
“Perhaps people should quit criticizing Bitcoin for its energy intensity and start criticizing states and nations for still providing new industries with dirty power supplies instead.”
It is not just Kelly-Pitou’s research that has revealed that the power consumption of Bitcoin will not be an environmental hazard. Earlier this year, according to Bloomberg, a statement from Credit-Suisse Analyst Michael Weinstein, stated:
“This is a far cry from the power and environmental Armageddon that some have feared.”
The statement was issued in context with Morgan Stanley’s Analyst Nicholas Ashworth statement which said miners of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could require up to 140 terawatt-hours power in the year 2017, constituting to about 0.6% of the world’s total.
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