Who tried to approach the world of the cryptocurrencies knows well that, often, a simple home computer isn’t enough to mine. But this let another question arise: but how much does the mining consume? Maybe too much, let’s discover it together.
Mining amd Miners
Let’s make a step back and let’s try to understand what is the mining. The mining is the process of extraction of the cryptocurrencies, like the Bitcoin. The cryptocurrencies are digitally created through a specific software and to “find them” there are the miners.
The process of mining includes the resolution of calculations that only some very powerful computers, or many computers together, can solve.
The miners give the calculation power of their computers to mine bitcoin, or every cryptocurrency. But you get nothing for nothing. Mine cryptocurrencies isn’t easy. Usually a miner puts together a computer with the only purpose to “mine”.
It is a supercomputer, equipped with tents of processors with high performances, that work simultaneously to mine a single bitcoin. Therefore, these computers are equipped with very efficient cooling systems, to avoid that the computer heats up too much during the process of mining of the virtual coin.
All of it require an important waste of energy and costs. We don’t talk only about the electric energy used for the process (which is anyway a lot), but even about the costs for the hardware and for its maintenance.
Groups of miners and mining pools
Often the miners come together, by putting many computers to mine simultaneously on the same blockchain, to obtain a higher efficiency and power.
In the last years, therefore, were born even the so called mining pools. These are massive specialized centers for mining. With inside them hundreds or thousands of machines for the mining, that work no stop, seven days a week, twentyfour hours per day.
Often behind these machines there are miners connected from every corner of the world.
But the consumption?
We entered in a world that seems incredible, but a such enormous power of calculation has even incredible consumptions. And now that the mining is becoming an ever more spreaded activity it starts to become a problem.
No one ever talked about the problem of the sustainability and of the energy consumption in this environment. However we must start to think about a solution, because the numbers that arrive today are terrifying.
Let’s just think that the extraction of the bitcoin consume as much energy as a whole country of medium size, like the Argentina.
To reveal it it was a study of the University of Cambridge, published on the report Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.
Preciselly the extraction of the Bitcoin in the whole world consumes 121,36 terawattora, more or less as much as the need of the whole Argentina, with 5 millions of citizens.
In the report there are even the numbers of the other cryptocurrencies, like the Ethereum that consumes 4,7 terawattora, which means as much as the need of a small country with 3 millions of citizens, like the Moldavia, for example. But the Bitcoin is absolutely the one that consumes more.
In the future will it worth to mine Bitcoin?
The report then talks about the future. What is written by the researchers of the University of Cambridge talks about a scenario where the consumptions for the mining increase ever more, until to arrive that the value of the Bitcoin, which is now all time high, will fall down again.
At that point, though, a such high consumption of energy and with the value dropped, one will need to evaluate if it will still worth to go on with the activity of mining.
But this isn’t the only thing to consider. The economic side is the one that most attract the miners. But we need to start to think about the environmental effects of the massive consumptions made by the mining. If it won’t stop we will need to make it more sustainable, because at the moment, the mining for the only cryptocurrency of the Bitcoin is the responsible of the 0,5% of the electricity consumption of the whole planet!
This post is also available in: Italiano