Bitcoin miners generating high energy bills
- 15 April 2013
- From the section Technology
Bitcoin is facing fresh scrutiny after a report revealed the power requirements of the currency's miners.
Tracking website Blockchain logged 982 megawatt hours of electricity consumption over a 24-hour period by Bitcoin miners around the world.
According to Bloomberg, that is enough to power 31,000 homes in the US. Watchdog Ofgem claims the average UK household uses 3.3MwH per year.
Blockchain said the rough cost of that amount of power was $147,000 (£95,000).
However, it also suggested profits of $681,000 (£444,000) may have been made as a result of the mining.
Bitcoins are earned online by completing difficult computing tasks.
Mining involves solving a hard mathematical problem and miners typically use large numbers of computers to speed up the number-crunching involved.
The more mining takes place, the harder it becomes to mine new Bitcoins and the more power is required for the process.
Writer Mark Gimein described the energy requirements as "an environmental disaster" in a blog post for Bloomberg.
"Real-world mining of precious metals for currency was a resource-hungry and value-destroying process. Bitcoin mining is too," he wrote.
However, other analysts disagree.
Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, dismissed the quantity of electricity being used for mining as "trivial" on the website Forbes.
"There are around 120 million or so households in the US. Therefore Bitcoin mining is consuming 0.025% of the US household electricity supply," he wrote.
"This is without even thinking about the energy requirements of business and industry. Do also note that that is the power consumed by globalBitcoin mining... I feel secure in stating that Bitcoin mining really isn't a real-world environmental disaster."