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It takes three times more energy to extract Bitcoin from gold

According to a research recently published, the mineral cryptocurrency requires almost twice the energy compared to the extraction of gold, platinum and copper. Bitcoin BTC alone, needs three times more energy than gold.

Researchers at the Cincinnati Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education have tracked the daily energy demand and the hashrato of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018.

The researchers then used the average daily market prices of each cryptocurrency – and the respective premiums obtained from successfully extracting a block – to calculate the amount of energy needed to generate a US dollar value of each cryptocurrency.

The study found that Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero consumed respectively 17, 7, 7 and 14 million joules of energy to extract $ 1 of each cryptocurrency.

To put this in a kind of context, it would take 1 million joules of energy to lift about 110,000 tons, 1 meter from the ground. So yes, there is a lot of energy.

With respect to conventional metal extraction, copper requires only 4MJ, gold requires 5MJ and platinum needs 9MJ of energy to extract $ 1 of the precious metal.

Over a period of 18 months, the researchers also noted that the hashrate of the four traced cryptocurrencies has, on average, continued to increase. Although the cryptocurrency market was highly volatile over the same period, it seems to suggest that the cryptocurrency energy requirement will continue to rise regardless of the price of each currency.

Unfortunately, with the high and ever-increasing energy cryptocurrency demands, it seems that the hobby miner will not turn into a profit anytime soon.

The researchers also suggest that the extraction of these four cryptocurrencies is responsible for between three and 16 million tons of CO2 emissions. This is a fairly large estimate, and it should be noted that this study was completed using publicly available information. The researchers did not consider how the miners of these cryptocurrencies buy their electricity and at what speed they buy it.

Cryptocurrency mining has been at the forefront of environmental conversations, receiving criticism that it is inefficient, uses too much energy and is generally harmful to the environment.

Of course, mineral cryptocurrencies require a lot of energy, but what matters most is where that energy comes from. In some cases, the immense energy needs of cryptocurrency mines encourage innovation in green renewable energy sources.

Published November 6th 2018 at 10:54 UTC

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