Energy cost of 'mining' bitcoin more than twice that of copper or gold

(The Guardian, 5 Nov 2018) New research reveals that cryptocurrencies require far more electricity per-dollar than it takes to mine most real metals.

The amount of energy required to “mine” one dollar’s worth of bitcoin is more than twice that required to mine the same value of copper, gold or platinum, according to a new paper, suggesting that the virtual work that underpins bitcoin, ethereum and similar projects is more similar to real mining than anyone intended.

One dollar’s worth of bitcoin takes about 17 megajoules of energy to mine, according to researchers from the Oak Ridge Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, compared with four, five and seven megajoules for copper, gold and platinum.

Other cryptocurrencies also fair poorly in comparison, the researchers write in the journal Nature Sustainability, ascribing a cost-per-dollar of 7MJ for ethereum and 14MJ for the privacy focused cryptocurrency monero. But all the cryptocurrencies examined come off well compared with aluminium, which takes an astonishing 122MJ to mine one dollar’s worth of ore.

“Mining” is the name for the process by which blockchains, such as those that underpin cryptocurrencies, are regulated and verified. In bitcoin’s case, for instance, the currency is backed by “miners” due to the absence of a centralised authority confirming transactions. These miners effectively enter a competition to waste the most electricity possible by doing pointless arithmetic quintillions of times a second. One lucky competitor wins both a reward, worth about eighty thousand dollars in bitcoin, a

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The Guardian, 5 Nov 2018: Energy cost of 'mining' bitcoin more than twice that of copper or gold