While the prices of cryptocurrency continue to soar, reaching the threshold of 17,000 dollars, Bitcoin is now a real energy drain. This is in any case what reveals a recent study conducted by Digiconomist. Indeed, according to the results of this study, a Bitcoin transaction would consume as much energy as eight American households combined. The value of the virtual currency would push the miners to use machines more and more powerful and increasingly greedy energy to extract the maximum of chips.
According to Digitronics, the current value of bitcoin would push miners to use machines that can consume up to 24 terawatt hours per year. It is the equivalent of the consumption of a country like Nigeria with its 186 million inhabitants over the same period. This equates to an average of 215-kilowatt-hours of energy consumed by miners for each transaction.
The number of transactions per day is estimated at 300,000 currently, so it represents enough energy to feed the average American home for more than a week. The study also points out that the energy consumed by miners worldwide could suffice the electricity needs of 2.26 million US households.
The figures revealed by this study come to raise the question of the actual value provided by Bitcoin in view of the amount of energy required by transactions, but especially the environmental impact. Since 2015, the energy consumption of minors continues to grow and is far superior to that of conventional digital payment methods. This is because the dollar value of bitcoin is directly proportional to the amount of electricity used to exploit it. As the price goes up, the energy consumption follows.
Even if the model used in the study is not accurate, it gives an idea of the problem of extracting Bitcoin if it continues at this rate. Such energy consumption generates a considerable carbon emission. In fact, the study reveals that a single mine is responsible for 13,000 kg of CO2 emissions per bitcoin, i.e. between 24,000 and 40,000 kg of CO2 per hour. This represents the average fuel consumption of a car that has traveled 203,000 kilometers, according to a study of car CO2 emissions in Europe.
In a global context marked by climate change resulting in forest fires, droughts, and floods, it is pertinent to ask the question of the environmental impact of Bitcoin. Some observers believe that the problem will only get worse given the direct relationship between energy consumption and the number of transactions processed.
Even if there are initiatives that try to limit the environmental impact including increasing the number of transactions processed to reduce network congestion, it is still marginal because Bitcoin is several thousand times less effective than a network of cards credit.