Debate about the environmental effects of bitcoin mining has resurfaced following claims by an Australia-based sustainability think tank that bitcoin could eventually consume 60% of annual global electricity production.
According to the Long Future Foundation’s website, its calculations are based on the assumption that 1 BTC is valued at £1m, the cost of mining this resource is $500,000 and 3,600 bitcoins are produced every day.
“Bitcoin miners can get power cheaply for $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh) which means that they get 20 kWh per dollar spent,” notes the website.
By multiplying these numbers (500,000 x 20 x 3,600 x 365) on its Bitcurrent calculator – an interactive spreadsheet – the foundation arrives at the conclusion that bitcoin mines would consume 13,140,000,000,000 kWh – or 13,140 terawatt hours (TWh) – per annum, or the amount of energy required to power 1.5bn homes.
Guy Lane, an environmental scientist and spokesperson for the foundation, said:
“While bitcoin is a virtual currency, it has very real economic, social and environmental effects […] Bitcoin has the potential to have an enormous impact on our global resources and energy use if not managed properly.”
Lane explained that the