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Bitcoin’s Ener­gy Issues

Bit­coin is the gas guz­zler of the cryp­to world. The process of ver­i­fi­ca­tion that is used on the net­work is pow­er­ful but also uses a lot of pow­er. It is some­thing that has been iden­ti­fied as a pret­ty big neg­a­tive when the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the sys­tem is con­sid­ered.

If you’re inter­est­ed in know­ing how much pow­er the net­work uses, Btxchange.io com­piled a sum­ma­ry of the pow­er usage to date. You can see what they found out in the info­graph­ic here.

It didn’t start out that way. In the ear­ly days, the com­put­ing pow­er required to solve the cryp­to­graph­ic equa­tions was rea­son­able. You could use just about any com­put­er to mine trans­ac­tions. But then the net­work start­ed to grow.

The val­ue of the cryp­tocur­ren­cy start­ed to increase and, as a result, min­ing became high­ly prof­itable. And, as a result, min­ers flocked to the sys­tem. With more users, the pow­er require­ments just to main­tain the chain increased.

With min­ing becom­ing more prof­itable, min­ers start­ed to use big­ger and bet­ter rigs so that they could have a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. The upshot? Elec­tric­i­ty usage sky­rock­et­ed and con­tin­ued to climb as min­ers con­tin­ued to try and out­do one anoth­er.

Why is the sys­tem so heavy on pow­er? It is par­tial­ly the com­plex­i­ty of the cryp­to­graph­ic hash­es that min­ers need to solve to con­firm trans­ac­tions. But, the main prob­lem lies in the redun­dan­cy of the sys­tem as a whole.

If you had one min­er try­ing to solve one block at a time, it wouldn’t be near­ly as waste­ful. The prob­lem is that you have hun­dreds or pos­si­bly thou­sands of min­ers work­ing on each prob­lem. The one that solves the equa­tion cor­rect­ly first is reward­ed for her efforts, but the oth­ers get noth­ing.

As a result, there is a whole lot of effort put in that even­tu­al­ly leads to nowhere, while a lot of elec­tric­i­ty is wast­ed in the process.

Josh War­di­ni

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