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Bitcoin's energy consumption is on the rise: how sustainable is crypto mining

29 Mar, 2021

Bitcoin's energy consumption continues to raise concerns globally. After reaching a recent all-time high near $60K, detractors of the original cryptocurrency persist in pointing out the electricity-intense proof-of-work consensus system in which Bitcoins are 'mined' by computers solving cryptographic puzzles. These computers — powered by state-of-the-art graphics chips — are guzzling electricity at a hair-raising rate. Even after the 2020 halving event cut the rate of BTC rewarded for mining in half, the massive increase in value come 2021 has made mining more popular than ever. It's not just enthusiasts contributing their home computers. Operations are increasingly stuffing warehouses full of powerful computers, with all the associated power, cooling and maintenance costs that come with it.

The University of Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index places Bitcoin's electricity consumption at about 139.38 Terawatt-hours (TWh) as of late March 2021. That puts its consumption above whole countries', such as Sweden (131.80 TWh) and Ukraine (128.81 TWh). In the bigger picture, Bitcoin mining accounts for about 0.59% of global energy consumption.

Consumption in context

That's not a good look in an increasingly environmentally conscious world, but it's important to keep things in perspective. The combined value of all mined Bitcoin is just over $1 trillion as of 26 March 2021, easily surpassing Ukraine and Sweden, which are just behind BTC in Cambridge's energy consumption rankings. So, it's not necessarily more wasteful by that measure. Compare the 'digital gold' of Bitcoin to the energy-intensive process of mining actual gold from the ground. Bitcoin mining also proves to be more efficient, even if you can't make a necklace out of cryptocurrency. When considering Bitcoin's many advantages — for example, in terms of security, privacy and cross-border transactions — it could still be 'worth' the energy use. However, it would still be responsible to consider more efficient ways to use the power.

Proof-of-Stake vs Proof-of-Work

One way to do this would be to switch from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus model to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) model. The latter is simply a matter of proving ownership and doesn't require any expensive mining. While PoS is undoubtedly more energy-efficient and championed by the likes of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, it has been met with resistance from existing Bitcoin miners. Part of this is reactionary. Miners have invested a lot of money in their hardware and want to see a return on it. However, many also tout the energy-intensive cryptography work as part of Bitcoin's core philosophy since these make the blockchain more secure and more difficult to alter by bad actors. Bitcoin is also the flagbearer for cryptocurrency as a whole, and its success boosts the value of the whole sector. No one wants to change something that's doing so well.

Mine in the cloud

So, where does that leave us? At StormGain, we offer a different approach, courtesy of our integrated Bitcoin cloud miner. Rather than buying and installing a mining rig, our users can instead participate in our cloud miner to earn BTC. All they have to do is log in to the StormGain platform for totally free (in terms of both monetary and energy costs to the client). The longer you stay logged in to the website or app, the more BTC you can earn. You can also increase the reward rate by trading cryptocurrencies on our platform.

Using this approach, Bitcoin awarded on StormGain is still mined by conventional mining hardware, but because the rewards are shared with all our clients, we hope it will reduce waste and provide a cleaner, greener alternative to setting up mining rigs at home! Until more efficient technology is invented, our cloud-based mining programme offers the best way to use the hardware to benefit the most people.

About StormGain

StormGain is an online platform for buying, selling and exchanging cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and a whole range of altcoins with up to 300x leverage. Built-in crypto wallets, low fees and the integrated crypto miner make it the most efficient choice for all your crypto needs. Find out more at StormGain.com or register in just a few seconds and take the demo account for a spin to see for yourself how easy it can be to invest in cryptocurrencies.

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