MIT Scientists Score Breakthrough in Finding Bacteria That Produce Electricity

Deeps in mines, at the bottom of lakes, and even in your own gut, bacteria are hard at work producing electricity in order to survive in environments low in oxygen.

These potent little power producers have been used in speculative experiments and one day may power everything from batteries to “biohomes“.

There are many types of bacteria capable of producing electricity, but some are better at it than others. The trouble with these bacteria is that they are difficult and expensive to grow in a lab setting, slowing down our ability to develop new technologies with them.

A new technique developed by MIT engineers makes sorting and identifying electricity-producing bacteria easier than ever before which may make them more readily available for us in technological applications.

Electricity-producing bacteria are able to pull off the trick by producing electrons within their cells and releasing them through tiny channels in their cell membranes in a process called extracellular electron transfer, or EET.

Current processes for identifying the electricity producing capabilities of bacteria involved measuring the activity of EET proteins but this is a daunting and time consuming process.

Researchers sometimes use a process called dielectrophoresis to separate two kinds of bacteria based on their electrical properties. They can use this process to differentiate between two different kinds of cells, such as cells from a frog and cells from a bird.

But the MIT team’s study separated cells based on a much more minute difference, their ability to produce electricity.

By applying small voltages to bacteria strains in an hourglass-shaped microfluidic channel the team was able to separate and measure the different kinds of closely related cells.

By noting the voltage required to manipulate bacteria and recording the cell’s size researchers were able to calculate each bacteria’s polarizability – how easy it is for a cell to produce electricity in an electric field.

Their study concluded that bacteria with a higher polarizability were also more active electricity producers.

Next the team will begin testing bacteria already thought to be strong candidates for future power production.

If their observations on polarizability hold true for these other bacteria, this new technique could make electricity-producing bacteria more accessible than ever before.


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Author: JACOB BANAS
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Cryptocurrency Miners Vanish In Sweden, Leaving Big Electricity Bill

The Swedish county of Norrbotten has seen the failure of not one, but two recent cryptocurrency mining initiatives. The companies involved have simply disappeared leaving only unpaid bills in their wake.

ABOVE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, SWEDEN

The most northerly Swedish county, over half of Norrbotten’s area lies within the arctic circle. Cool conditions for mining cryptocurrency, one might think, but it seems success is far from a foregone conclusion.

The municipalities of Älvsbyn and Kalix had welcomed investment from crypto-companies in the region. Neither, however, got quite what they had hoped.

 

POWER CUT

In Älvsbyn, Miami-based NGDC had set-up facilities and started mining bitcoin, only to abruptly cease operations in the Autumn. The explanation given was that the energy company, Vattenfall (Waterfall), had cut off the electricity due to unpaid bills.

Vattenfall has applied for sequestration, closure, and bankruptcy for NGDC. It is less optimistic about its prospects of retrieving payment for the unpaid electricity bill of 14 million SEK (around $1.5 million).

 

 

The municipal council, which owns the premises used by NGDC, has tried unsuccessfully to contact the company, to remove their equipment, according to local news sources. Still, at least the authorities in Älvsbyn didn’t suffer any financial loss.

 

NO SHOW

In Kalix, 100km to the East, near the border with Finland, the municipality is trying to recover half a million kronor ($55,000) in unpaid rent. A company called Chasquitech put forward their plans for bitcoin mining in the Spring, but never arrived to start operations.

Crypto-mining companies in Sweden have faced a difficult time recently as drought conditions in the summer forced up the price of electricity. Combined with lower bitcoin price, this has meant profits are ever harder to come by.

Patrik Öhlund, CEO of The Node Pole, still sees a bright future for the industry as a whole and cryptocurrency mining in Sweden. He thinks the number of data centers (currently 50) can only increase. “Looking five years ahead, we would not be surprised if we see a doubling, upwards of a hundred,” he said.


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Author: EMILIO JANUS
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Cryptocurrency: Virtual Money, Real Power, And The Fight For A Small Town’s Future

Driving into the small town of Wenatchee, Washington, about three hours east of Seattle, a sign welcomes you to the “Apple Capital of the World.” But not far from the abundant orchards, a very different industry is taking root. As unlikely as it may seem, this rural community has become a hub for cryptocurrency mining.

“Cryptocurrency justified the expense to build something that no one would otherwise build,” said entrepreneur David Carlson, as rows upon rows of computer servers whirred away at the facility he set up here. “These things can run 24/7 making cryptocurrency.”

He has big plans for his business, even if some Wenatchee residents don’t like it.

LIONBIT

“We want to grow ten times larger than we are now, and we can do it here, or we can do it somewhere, but we’re going to do it,” Carlson said.

Bitcoin is the best known, but it’s just one of many digital forms of currency. These cryptocurrencies are decentralized; rather than being processed through banks, transactions are verified and recorded by individual users. Encrypted technology called blockchain keeps the transactions secure.

Bitcoin hit a high of over $19,700 in December 2017, though it’s worth much less, about $6,300, today. Despite the volatility, rising values have fueled a whole new industry and legions of enthusiasts. At a recent cryptocurrency conference in Atlantic City, thousands gathered to explore new ideas and opportunities in the field.

“So I live off of bitcoin,” said Kenn Bosak, who hosts “Pure Blockchain Wealth” on YouTube. “It pays my rent. I book my flights with cheapair.com. They accept bitcoin, Dash, all kinds of cryptocurrencies. I book my rooms with BitPay with my Visa card. My Lyft drivers accepts BitPay, that’s bitcoin. So I’m all in. I use bitcoin in every aspect of my life.”

Unlike dollars or other conventional currencies, cryptocurrency like bitcoin isn’t issued by a government. It’s created through a process called mining, which is leading to a virtual gold rush around the world.

How does mining work?

Every time someone uses cryptocurrency to pay for something, it sets off a flurry of invisible activity. Computer servers, which can be located anywhere in the world, work to verify and process the transaction, racing to authenticate the exchange of digital money through complex transactions.

For doing this work, the machines (and their owners) are rewarded with new cryptocurrency.  With a sufficient number of powerful computers, it can be a lucrative business.

That’s what David Carlson’s company, Giga Watt, is busy doing at his facility in Wenatchee. He started with just a few small machines, but with the help of investors, he’s scaled up significantly. Now his rooms full of computer servers work feverishly to mine cryptocurrency around the clock.

Each of the small machines makes roughly $1,500 worth of bitcoin every year, though the amount of profit fluctuates every day. As Carlson showed CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett around, the site hummed with the sound of giant industrial cooling fans.

“Every one of these things is like a thousand-watt hair dryer. So there will be a thousand of those hairdryers in this spot. So that’s quite a lot of heat. Don’t try it at home,” Carlson said.

“This entire wall is the future, according to you,” Barnett said.

“Yeah. The future of money right here,” Carlson replied.

He plans to have 22 of his pods completed by the end of the year — and all that computer power sucks up a huge amount of electricity.

“Our pods use one and a half megawatts, which is typically associated with, like, 600 homes,” he said.

Powering his operation would cost a fortune most places, but Wenatchee has a competitive advantage: the Columbia River. Dams on the river generate cheap hydroelectric power, which has drawn crypto mining enthusiasts to this corner of the country.

Steve Wright, the general manager of the Chelan County public utility, says it has long been an economic engine for the region. “What we have seen more recently are industries like cryptocurrency that have come to the region for the same reasons that aluminum came here. Low-cost, reliable electricity,” he said.

dam.jpg
Dams on the Columbia River provide cheap power to the Pacific Northwest.

But even here, there are limits.

“We have requests for service that would double the usage here in the county, and we’re trying to figure out, you know, how are we going to deal with that, and what the implications would be for the people who live here,” Wright said.

TIP

The race for cheap power

Because access to cheap power is key, crypto miners are racing to set up shop anywhere in the world they can find low rates. Cold climates are also preferred, to help reduce cooling costs.

But this tech boom is not without problems. Among the issues: the droning noise of all that equipment. The hum reverberates far beyond the walls. And some of the operations have sprung up in a decidedly makeshift fashion.

“Would you want to live next to one of these?” said Andrew Wendell, customer service director for the utility. “Not just the aesthetics, but also the noise. There’s a lot of noise. They really do belong in an industrial setting.”

He continues, “And it gives us a bit of a concern, because, quite literally, you could have a tractor trailer come in and load this thing up and move it out, literally overnight. And so it just begs the question, from a utility who is providing and building the infrastructure to support these, how long is our investment? When we build those, we are building for 40, 50, 60 years. This doesn’t look like that long term.”

Not only is he worried about miners abandoning Wenatchee and leaving behind expensive new power connections — there are also safety concerns. Some mining setups push the infrastructure to the breaking point.

Wendell shows us an example. “What we have here is a standard residential home, but this shed, about 10 by 10 here, off to the side with the fence, that’s full of cryptocurrency mining operations.”

He holds up the remnants of a frayed and melted underground electrical cable.

“This plastic insulation breaks down because there’s so much heat?” Barnett asks.

“There’s so much heat. It can’t dissipate the heat. So the insulation breaks down, and then the cables go phase to phase. And when they go phase to phase, they combust. They arc and they can start a fire. And that’s what happened [here], is a fire started,” Wendell said. “The bottom line is, is that when you mix the cryptocurrency mining with traditional residential load, if you don’t have things built and designed appropriately, you’re going to have some problems.”

He adds, “In this part of the country, a wildfire can spread and burn literally hundreds of homes. So we take that very seriously.”

While some in Wenatchee are excited about the economic potential of cryptocurrency mining, many others are concerned about its massive power consumption and other risks.

“Nobody wants a fire, you know, like their apartment complex burning down, because someone is mining bitcoin,” one resident said.

Some admit they don’t fully understand it. “It’s just going to drain our power, and that’s really all I know,” a local woman told us.

Facing overwhelming demand for power from cryptocurrency miners and increasing concern from the community, the utility placed a moratorium on new mining requests until they could agree on a solution. Local miners were not happy.

“They went overboard with their moratorium. It was kinda crazy for ’em to say, ‘No, you can’t do that. We’re – we’re shutting everything down in the – in the entire county,'” said Matt McColm. He was planning to set up a mining operation in his insurance office to generate some extra money for his 12-year-old son’s college fund. He’d already ordered the equipment on Amazon. But now he’ll have to move it all to a site a few hours away in Oregon instead.

“What you’ve got is – is you’ve got is several large players that kind of salted the earth for everyone else. They’re literally consuming large sections of our town and edging out the small ones,” McColm said. “It’s kinda rough, because I’d rather develop here locally… and put the money here in Wenatchee.”

Earlier this month, the utility held a public hearing for input on the moratorium and the future of cryptocurrency mining in Wenatchee.

Some locals stood up to voice complaints about what the industry is doing to their town. “I read a lot about what bitcoin operators want, and what bitcoin is doing for them. I’m not hearing that it’s doing anything much for us. This is a take, take, take, not a give,” one woman said.

Others made the case to encourage business development, like the man who said, “I’d ask you guys to consider the very small operations that are existing right here in town. A large rate increase would drastically affect our business, putting some of us out.”

Crypto mining is just the beginning

Much of the concern about cryptocurrency mining is its volatility. With prices soaring one day and crashing the next, many worry the entire market could collapse. But advocates say they are missing the big picture — a growing industry that’s about more than just mining.

Malachi Salcido, another large-scale miner, says the rise of supercomputing, using specialized hardware and cheap power, can also enable things like artificial intelligence.

“And so it helps you to understand why in the world would you build a 30, 40-year asset for something that’s only nine years old? I didn’t. I built it for a new technology that will have many current and future iterations that we don’t yet fully understand,” he said.

He believes his investment will pay off, even if cryptocurrency fizzles.

“The demand internationally for power and networking for computing space is rising so rapidly that I’m very comfortable there will be demand for our location, even if crypto doesn’t become the market it could.”

Salcido, a Wenatchee native, wants to see his hometown benefit from the new industry. But for now, he must expand elsewhere.

“Our strategic goal is 500 megawatts within the next 5 years, and 5 to 10 percent of the global network. We are currently negotiating developments in northern Idaho, northern Oregon, and northern central California. Our choice is whether or not they happen here,” he said.

A moratorium may stem the flood of miners arriving in Wenatchee, but it won’t stop them from seeking out cheap power wherever they can find it.

In June, a cryptocurrency mining company called Coinmint took over a massive former Alcoa aluminum plant near the small town of Massena, in upstate New York. Coinmint is investing $700 million to turn it into a bitcoin mining behemoth. Once complete, it could be the largest in the world.

Back in Wenatchee, the only question for Dave Carlson is not whether to grow, but where.

“Cryptocurrency justified the expense to build something that no one would otherwise build,” he said. “Supercomputing, A.I. can be the new export.”

“So you’re confident that you will grow, you’re just concerned that it will be elsewhere because Wenatchee blinked at a critical moment?” Barnett asked.

Carlson agreed. “That’s exactly right.”


IZX

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No, Bitcoin Won’t Use Up All The World’s Energy

One of the first thoughts anyone looking at bitcoin will have is the amount of energy used by miners to maintain the blockchain. Apparently, some people think that bitcoin and blockchain will boil the seas dry with its energy consumption.

Bitcoiners would say this is FUD–the modern equivalent of BS or just straight lies and is often used as an out of hand rebuttal of argument. FUD stands for fear, uncertainty and doubt and used to be an old strategy in marketing to confuse your competitors and keep them from buying your product in a corporate environment generally ruled by a culture of CYA (cover your rear) and fear.

Bitcoin using too much energy is thus pure FUD as it originates in the sectors that will lose more or be disrupted most by the blockchain, the latest being the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a core piece of the global banking infrastructure.

 


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Let’s have a quick look at banking’s footprint. According to the world bank there are 12.5 bank branches per hundred thousand people in the world. That doesn’t include their massive energy-munching head offices and titanic server farms, the scale of which I’m sure would embarrass even the mightiest bitcoin miner.

The world population is 7.6 billion so there are, at least, according to the World Bank (and they should know), just shy of 1 million bank branches. The have 3 million ATMs, roughly the same number of machines as there are ASICs mining bitcoin. As such, bitcoin uses the same amount of energy as the banking sectors ATMs, leaving that business to boil the oceans with 1 million branches and the resource drain of 60 million people and their associated overheads. (Yes, a bank like HSBC does employ 228,000 and have 3,900 offices.)

There will, of course, be changes to blockchain technology to scale it and make it more energy efficient, but energy consumption is only an issue to those that haven’t looked into it.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies also potentially replace gold as an international asset of last resort and it is said the energy expended raping the earth for the precious gold monetary relic is five times that expended on bitcoin. Even if it was a 1:1, the replacement of gold by bitcoin would surely be an environmental good.

Then you just have to multiply out the ponderous, soul destroying processes that require never-ending paper chases to see that crypto would be a giant boon to the environment as the leviathans of energy-gobbling bureaucracy fall to the greater efficiency of crypto.

I don’t mean to go all Marxist on my gentle reader but in the end it all comes back to energy efficiency because everything backs out to energy costs in the end. If crypto and blockchain is not more energy efficient it simply won’t be economically feasible to use it because banks and their offices, ATMs and tens of millions of workers will simply cost less than the blockchain alternative.

 

 

Can you see that happening? No, nor can anyone.

There is, however, a pinch point. This pinch point is energy. There simply is not enough of it being laid down for the future, and I mean electricity.

Is it really smart to hold every photo I ever took in the cloud? Is it really a good idea for Google, Microsoft and Amazon to be hoovering everything I say and do into massive server clouds powered by hydro power? Does anyone complain about this boiling the seas?

Well consider this. Google grosses $110 billion in sales, it makes $12 billion, it has 12,000 billion yearly searches, call it 1c a search. (That in its own right is rather fascinating.) When energy makes up a huge amount of that cost, its 8% margins start to look mighty slim and the sudden bans on crypto advertising amongst the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google start to seem more than coincidental as the crypto miners start to gravitate to the cheap energy that keeps these companies in the business of data hoarding.

Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg of energy shortage just over the brow. If the dream of electric cars and trucks is to be realized and Europe is actually stating it wants petrol and diesel gone by 2030, the world needs 50% more power stations.

It is worth stating again. If the U.S. and Europe are going to dump the internal combustion engine it will need 50% more electricity infrastructure and will have to install it in 20 years.

They’d better get cracking and we’d better get buying those stocks.

Meanwhile, expect lots of FUD around anything that draws electricity and threatens to drive electricity prices high. It is coming and lots of the darlings of silicon who claim environmental credibility while sucking power out of the system with a mighty force will feel the pinch as their energy hungry ways catch up with them.

Bitcoin mining, data mining, it’s all the same.



Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavor to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!
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Author: Clem Chambers
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Bitcoin Mining’s Electricity Bill: Is It Worth It?

They say it takes money to make money; in order to make a profit off Bitcoin mining, you have to buy mining equipment and pay your electricity bill first. As more miners join the Bitcoin network, some individuals fear that the amount of electricity consumed by mining will have a negative impact on the environment. Others believe that the benefits of Bitcoin mining outweigh the cost it takes to produce the digital currency.

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Bitcoin mining and energy consumption

New Bitcoin are produced through a process called mining, where computers expend energy and computational resources to solve a difficult math problem that verifies a recent block of Bitcoin transactions. The miner who solves the math problem adds the block to the blockchain and receives newly minted Bitcoin. The difficulty of the math problem depends on how much computational power the network has in summation. As the Bitcoin network attracts more miners, the mining difficulty increases, and usually, the amount of energy a mining rig consumes increases too.

The Bitcoin network currently consumes about 2.55 gigawatts (GW) of electricity per year; to put that into perspective, the entire country of Ireland has an average electricity consumption of 3.1 GW, and Austria has an average electricity consumption of 8.2 GW per year.  Over the past year, the estimated amount of TwH that the Bitcoin network consumes per year increased 413.37 percent. When compared to countries like the Czech Republic, the Bitcoin network uses 102.3 percent of the entire electricity consumed by the country per year.

BTC

Data consultant and blockchain specialist Alex De Vries believes that the amount of energy Bitcoin mining consumes is problematic. In a recent research study published in Joule, De Vries found that the average amount of electricity consumed per Bitcoin transaction is 300 kwH, and at the rate new miners are joining the network – and the mining difficulty increases – this number has the potential to reach 900 KwH by the end of 2018.

De Vries said that even though society can not see the changes being made to the environment via Bitcoin mining, mining operations are not helping the world get closer to their climate and environmental goals:

“We know that mining is done with coal-electricity, but also with renewable energy. In the latter case, we don’t know what we are displacing, plus renewable energy never has zero lifetime carbon footprint either. There’s more work to be done here, but there’s certainly an impact. The more energy Bitcoin uses, the more it will impact the environment for sure – which in turn will impact everyone. It’s not helping us reach our climate goals.”

There is a grey area when it comes to figuring out how Bitcoin mining is impacting the environment. Although some of the electricity used is sourced from coal, mining operations usually do not release carbon emissions themselves. Just because miners do not see the physical impact that mining has on the environment, the amount of resources consumed and the opportunity cost involved should be concerning in itself.

Hash rate and energy consumption

The amount of energy mining consumes seems to be increasing. As mining equipment becomes better at solving blocks, the electricity consumed by each mining rig increases. To stay ahead of their competitors, miners are always looking for mining equipment with a higher hashrate. The hashrate is the speed at which the miner is able to provide answers to the math problem. The higher the hash rate, the faster one can guess the answer to the problem.

At first, the problem was easy enough to be solved by a standard CPU, but as more miners joined the network and the problem became more difficult, miners found that GPU were better suited to solve the problem. Just a few years later, FPGAs and then ASICs – application specific integrated circuits – were better suited than GPUs to solve a block.

Mining

Others, like entrepreneur and former Google information security engineer Marc Bevand, believe that the amount of energy that mining consumes will cause further innovation in the form of renewable energies. Bevand believes that the energy consumption will eventually lead to decreased costs of renewable energy for society at large:

“Because miners are so sensitive to electricity prices, they are often a driver pushing utilities to further develop renewables which are now the cheapest source of energy. For example in China, many miners are located in the Sichuan province because of its abundant hydroelectricity. Another example is an Australian entrepreneur who is building a 20 megawatt (MW) solar-powered mining farm. If the energy use of cryptocurrency miners continue to increase it will help decrease the costs of renewables for society at large (increased demand → increased R&D → increased capacity & higher efficiency → lower costs through economies of scale).”

Electricity costs have already put miners in search for a cheaper source of energy. Companies have been looking to places like Canada and the Sichuan province where electricity is typically cheaper. Because miners have incentives to use cheap electricity, this leads to more R&D in the energy space. In the long run, this should make forms of electricity cheaper to all of society as innovations are made in energy.

Cost

The Price of Network Security

Although the amount of energy mining operations consume does not go unnoticed, some individuals believe that the benefits of mining – network security – outweigh the negative externalities like electricity consumption.

The Bitcoin network is secured by a consensus algorithm called proof-of-work (PoW). Miners are paid newly minted Bitcoin and transaction fees for solving a block, securing the network in the process. If a miner is not able to solve the cryptographic proof, blocks of transaction history would not be added to the blockchain and blockchain technology as a whole would be nullified; no record of transaction history would be created if blocks were not solved and added to the chain by miners. The cost that has to be paid for this network security is the large amounts of energy that a PoW consensus consumes.

Cypherpunk Jameson Lopp took to twitter to express how he feels about Bitcoin’s energy expenditure problem. Lopp believes that the electricity expense that Bitcoin mining accrues is simply a tax that must be paid for network security.

Economic researcher Vasily Sumanov also believes that energy inefficiency and waste is currently the price we pay to conduct blockchain experiments:

“Higher energy consumption is associated not only with environmental pollution but also with the higher security of a distributed ledger dedicated to storage and transfer of value. I have a strong feeling that this is a temporary situation, and in the future, Bitcoin energy efficiency as a function of transaction volume and energy consumption will increase as a result of Lightning Network adoption.”

“Just look at any other industry, for example, cars or electronic devices – their environment pollution and energy costs considerably decreased over time as these industries developed. So why do people expect high energy efficiency from the Bitcoin in the very beginning? It is only 9 years old.”

Consensus algorithm

PoW is currently the most popular form of consensus on a blockchain network. Before transactions are verified, miners must solve cryptographic proofs. However, it is also the most energy intensive form of consensus. Alternatives that consume less energy like Proof-of-Stake and the Lightning Network are being developed to make blockchain networks more efficient.

But for the most part, these innovations have not officially launched.  Bitcoin is still in its early stages and is not even 10 years old yet, and throughout history, it is not uncommon for technologies to be sub-optimal in their beginning stages.

Improving efficiency

At the same time, there are people working towards solutions for these network problems. The Ethereum network is looking into proof-of-stake solutions to increase its efficiency while decreasing electricity consumption; the Bitcoin network is looking to implement the Lightning Network. But until these solutions are out of their test net phases and go live, PoW will continue to be criticized for its electricity consumption.

Once the electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network is optimized, the overall efficiency of the Bitcoin network will increase. In an academic paper titled Banking on Blockchain: Costs Savings Thanks to the Blockchain Technology, Luisanna Cocco, Andrea Pinna, and Michele Marchesi from the University of Cagliari’s electrical engineering and computer science departments, found that Bitcoin must increase its economic efficiency, operational efficiency, and service efficiency before it truly optimizes global financial infrastructures.

 “In a nutshell, all of our results show that the overall efficiency of the Bitcoin system can increase only after overcoming its main limitations: the low number of transactions per block and the too high computational power that it currently needs”

Bitcoin is useful for its transparent ledger, secure data storage, and user empowerment features, but is going to struggle with mass adoption until it can sort out scalability and energy consumption problems. The total amount of Bitcoin that can ever exist is 21 mln, and as mining rigs consume more energy, miners incur higher electricity bills, and the reward for mining Bitcoin diminishes. Eventually, the profit from Bitcoin mining alone will not be enough to cover the electricity expense. In the future, miners will need to supplement their electricity cost payment with money from the transaction fees they receive for signing a block.

Is the energy expenditure worth it?

Although some people believe that the amount of energy mining consumes is problematic, it is difficult to measure how much of society is benefiting from Bitcoin. Bevand said:

“Answering “is Bitcoin’s energy consumption worth it?” is very subjective, because we don’t have any hard data measuring how much Bitcoin is helping society. How many Venezuelan are using it to escape inflation? How many families are using it for international remittance and therefore avoiding the average fee of 7.13 percent of remittance providers? How many Bitcoin millionaires given back their newfound wealth to charities? We don’t have much data for any of these questions. I don’t think that the current level of energy consumption is worrisome. We are only at 0.2-0.5 percent of the worldwide electricity consumption. Like Morgan Stanley researchers said in their reports cryptocurrency miners are currently just a “blip on the radar” for utilities”

So far, there is no way for the world to quantitatively measure or know how many people are using Bitcoin, what they are using it for, and if it is making their lives better. But individuals like Bevand and businesses like Morgan Stanley say there’s no need to worry, because Bitcoin mining consumes such a small fraction of the world’s total electricity consumption.

Innovation is Imperative

Although we may not be able to see the toll that Bitcoin mining is taking on our environment with the naked eye, there is no doubt that the Bitcoin network will have to reduce its energy consumption before the Bitcoin blockchain undergoes mass adoption. It would not be surprising to see a regulating body create policy and regulation for miners in attempt to control/reduce electricity consumption.

Because Bitcoin miners are so sensitive to the price of electricity, this should push R&D in the energy space and produce more efficient energy solutions. It is hard to get an understanding of the positive vs negatives externalities of Bitcoin, so it is hard to say if the amount of energy consumed is truly “worth it”. But if the amount of electricity consumed by mining is not kept under control or made more efficient, then it is possible that the impact to the environment will be irreversible once people become aware of the negative effects that Bitcoin mining had on it.



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Author: Patrick Thompson
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