US researchers have found that the energy costs of breaking some cryogenic surge exceeds the cost of energy to extract many metals at the corresponding cost.
Firstly, researchers estimated the amount of energy needed on average to get one dollar in Bitcoins and another crypto currency (Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero), from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018. To do this, they used to make publicly available data on the parameters for equipment for mining and market prices.
It turned out that for extraction of one dollar in bitcoins, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero need 17, 7, 7 and 14 megajoules, and we only talk about the computers themselves, not their cooling systems and other infrastructure.
Thereafter, researchers used data from the scientific literature on energy consumption in the production of different metals and their market prices to compare "extraction" of crypto currency and the recovery of real metals. It turned out that one dollar in bitcoins is seven times less energy intensive than one dollar in aluminum (122 megajoules), but almost four times more than one dollar in copper (4 megajoules), gold (5 megajoules) and about twice – platinum 7 megajoules) and rare earths (9 megajoules).
"Although market prices for crypto exchange rates are quite volatile, the prices of three of the four currencies are growing steadily, indicating that energy costs continue to grow," the authors write.
But they also note that future changes in cryptocurrency algorithms can reduce mining power consumption.
"In five years, you will likely be able to buy something on Amazon or order a drink at a cafe, pay for kryptocurrency," the researchers say. "But people must be aware of the true value of this new technology."
On the other hand, the researchers prescribe that they only compared the recovery of kryptocurrency and minerals.
"Although the recovery of intangible bitcoin is energy-intensive, otherwise it is less energy-intensive than metals, which after extraction must be melted, transported and stored," the researchers say.
Finally, we note that in addition to the above estimated researchers, only at the time of Bitcoin's 2017 mining took 8.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity – this can be compared to energy use in Angola or Panama. If we accept that bitcoin accounts for half of the total energy consumption of crypto currency (because it accounts for about half of their value in dollars), then the total energy consumption in this case is comparable to Cuba or Slovenia's economies.
Over the last two years, researchers estimate the total carbon footprint of mining in the range of 3-15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. In addition, they found that mining in China, due to the nature of the country's energy system, produces four times more greenhouse gas emissions than Canada.