Sunday, August 18, 2019

Just When You Thought It Couldn"t Get Any Worse -- Coal Is Fueling Bitcoin -- August 18, 2019

I can't get my head around understanding energy consumption required by "Bitcoin."

To put the following data in perspective, from google:
For Great Britain. Energy use in the United Kingdom stood at 2,249 TWh (193.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2014. 
For Great Britain, total final consumption of electricity was broadly stable in 2018 compared to 2017, up 0.1 per cent. Renewable electricity generation was a record 111.1 TWh in 2018, an increase of 11.8 per cent on a year earlier. -- March 28, 2019
Luxembourg imports most of its energy. Luxembourg is the EU country with the second smallest forecast of renewables in 2020. Luxembourg has one of the highest emissions of carbon dioxide per person in Europe. According to IEA, the electricity use (gross production + imports – exports – transmission/distribution losses) in Luxembourg in 2008 was 7.7 TWh and population 0.49 million people.
Luxembourg was dependent on imported energy in 2008. Own production was 2% of primary energy in 2008. In 2008, electricity use per person in Luxembourg was 2.6 times greater than in the United Kingdom.
So, now that I have kind of a range of electricity consumption in two European/British economies, I can move on.

This site monitors "Bitcoin" energy consumption. As usual, numbers may be rounded.

Global "bitcoin":
  • estimated TWh per year: 75 TWh 
  • minimum TWh per year: 45 TWh
  • Number of us households powered for one day by the electricity consumed for a single transaction: 20 households
  • carbon footprint per transaction (kg of CO2): 300. Conversion: 300 kg = 0.3 metric tons
  • there are 300,000 Bitcoin transactions per day
  • most of the global Bitcoin mining facilities are in China
  • China's electricity sector relies heavily on coal-based power
  • coal is fueling bitcoin
Bitcoin cannot use renewable energy as sole source of energy:
While renewables are an intermittent source of energy, Bitcoin miners have a constant energy requirement. A Bitcoin ASIC miner will, once turned on, not be switched off until it either breaks down or becomes unable to mine Bitcoin at a profit. Because of this, Bitcoin miners increase both the baseload demand on a grid, as well as the need for alternative (fossil-fuel based) energy sources to meet this demand when renewable energy production is low.
In the worst case scenario, the presence of Bitcoin miners may thus provide an incentive for the construction of new coal-based power plants, or reopening existing ones. This impact would be even harder to quantify.
Obviously comparing apples to oranges, but I find this chart quite stunning. This is the energy requirements for one Bitcoin transaction compared with energy transactions for 100,000 credit card transactions.

Meanwhile, folks are worried about flaring as an environmental concern.


  1. Bitcoin is the most insane waste of energy ever. A joy ride makes more sense. A video game makes more sense. Bitcoin, you have a computer solving math problems (that nobody looks at or ever uses) to get credit for some bubble currency. You might as well just boil water and let it evaporate or run a fan pushing air outside. It is so batshit stupid.

    Heck, they had some proposal to use flaring gas to run bitcoin rigs and all I could think was why? I mean it's just the same waste as burning the stuff. And the flare is probably cheaper than a generator.

    1. We're definitely on the same page of music when it comes to Bitcoin. Having said that, I don't understand Bitcoin. But connecting the dots: China, coal, Bitcoin..... seems to be in order.