This year’s bitcoin bull run has coincided with record levels of mining activity–in fact, it’s seen an 800% increase since $20,000 peak to 84 quintillion hashes per second in September, re-igniting the years’-old debate: how eco-friendly is crypto mining?
For some crypto buffs, critics who squawk at the vast amounts of energy supposedly consumed by crypto mining and how it contributes to climate change are little more than churlish, pedantic party poopers.
In one camp are the PoW (Proof-of-Work) maximalists who argue that bitcoin is the “most secure public chain” as measured by hashrate, but denying that bitcoin is an energy hog.
In the other camp are crypto apologists (such as CoinShare) who concede that bitcoin and crypto mining are indeed power-hungry processes, but immediately go on the defensive by claiming that most of the energy is derived from renewable sources.
You probably already know where this is going. The long and short of it: bitcoin and crypto mining do consume vast amounts of power, as we shall see shortly.
Securing crypto networks is costly
By necessity, the most secure cryptographic networks such as bitcoin and ethereum are also the most energy intensive since they rely on heavy resource consumption to defend their networks from malicious attackers. PoW projects, like bitcoin, rely on mining to secure their blockchains and require the hashing power to continue even after every coin has been mined. Less resource-intensive networks do not employ such rigorous processes and are, consequently, almost certainly less secure.
Mineable coins belong to the PoW category, of which CoinMarketCap lists a total of 581. These are the main culprits as far as energy guzzling is concerned. Non-mineable coins such as Ripple, EOS, Stellar, Tezos, NEO and NEM are more energy efficient as they don’t require tons of energy to validate transactions and secure the network as their PoW brethren. Related: A Million-Mile Electric Car Battery? Musk…