How much energy does Bitcoin consume, and can it improve?

Originally published at:


Wow, when did they do that? I know at first the hashcash algorithm they used had a variable difficulty that absolutely was manipulated to make mining a block harder as time went on (and the supply thus got bigger). This must have been implemented in one of the hard forks (I haven’t really following BC too closely).

For what it’s worth, my money is on Ethereum (*). I think they’ll get Proof-of-stake working pretty soon, and then the energy considerations will be abated somewhat. (Also, I’ve been doing some smart-contract development, and ethereum is a fun platform on which to work, so tech-heads may want to check it out).

(*) Metaphorically speaking. I’m very under-employed right now and very broke, so I think I own like $30.00 worth of ether. But if I had money I would include it as part of my portfolio of assets.


Who the fuck decided that having the “from the Boing Boing shop” pop-up appear OVER the content would be a fucking good idea. What year is this, 2005? What a fucking moron that guy is.



Here’s some ad copy for you: the boing Boing shop is full of worthless shit. Avoid it at all costs. Would not shop again.


Reading the article, while Bitcoin mining isn’t using as much energy as some would believe, it does still use a metric shit ton and will for the foreseeable future. One wonders if the benefits to this cryptocurrency approach its climate change impact through the energy consumed by mining.


The difficulty has always been variable, but not based on time. It has always been based on how many miners are competing - the block difficulty is proportional to the total hash power on the network at any given time.


Nope, it’s never changed.

From Wikipedia

(which describes the way it’s always been)

Every 2,016 blocks (approximately 14 days at roughly 10 min per block), the difficulty target is adjusted based on the network’s recent performance, with the aim of keeping the average time between new blocks at ten minutes. In this way the system automatically adapts to the total amount of mining power on the network.

For all Cory mentioning a “much-needed reality check,” I didn’t notice where the article changed the 32TWh/year estimation. AFAIK that’s still the best estimate, which is an absurd about of energy to fund just a couple hundred thousand daily transactions. And the only thing that will bring this energy use down is if the price plummets.

I feel like at this point buying BTC (and thus propping up the price) is verging on unethical. What good is sticking solar panels on my roof and doing all the things I do in the name of energy efficiency and environmentalism if I contribute to this bizarre world where the very definition of “value” is carbon brunt spinning CPUs “mining” pointless mathematical puzzles?


Are you a Masochist? Why haven’t you installed ?


Victim blaming isn’t allowed here.


I made a crack last year that “If aluminum is solidified electricity, is BitCoin virtualized aluminum?”

Looking back I wonder if the world would have better off making aluminum?

EDIT- For scale

Worldwide production of aluminium in 2010 was 41.4 million tonnes. Using the figures above (15 kilowatt hours per kilogram) this means that 621 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy were used in the production of aluminium. To put that in perspective, the total world production of electrical energy was 20261 billion kilowatt hours, meaning that more than 3% of the world’s entire electrical supply went to extraction of aluminium.


So - I wonder - could one go back in time and convince say late 1800s industrialists of a scheme like Bit coin?

“Just run these steam motors 24/7, and you will generate some intangible money called bit coin.”

“Is it a metal? Or resource we can sell? Where can I spend this Bitcoin? If I double the steam engines, will I double my out put?”

Etc - I mean, I just don’t think one could convince someone back then to invest real “work” into something so intangible. It feels like this stupid phone game I play.I know 10 years from now, all the time and energy I put into playing this thing will mean NOTHING - but still, I am getting some entertainment out of it.

Also, the Czechs are the number one beer consumers in the world - possible causation to the correlation of its Bitcoin Energy consumption?


Aluminum production capacity sure seems wasted on foil for cooking and cans for beverages. I’m certain these are ‘placeholder’ applications for when there’s another big war that needs lots of aircraft aluminum.

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I’ll have to look up numbers, but recycling aluminum takes a whole lot less power than making new aluminum from ore. A whole lot of aluminum directed into apparent “single use” applications winds up being reused.

Aluminum is easily recycled and even that which gets “thrown out” is valuable enough that eddy current systems sort out non-ferrous metals for recycling out of the trash stream.

ADDED- 90% less energy needed to recycle aluminum into new use vs refining new Al from ore.


If I’m reading this right, it sounds like every bitcoin wallet has access to the record of every bitcoin transaction? If so, that doesn’t seem very efficient unless someone else is paying the electric bill.

How does this compare with the global proliferation of spam?



Damn millennials…ruining power…

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ugh Crank Labor:

The prisoner had to do many thousands of turns a day without any product of their hard work. Sand or gravel was simply churned around a drum. The crank handle was attached to a set of cogs, which pushed a paddle through sand, and Warders could tighten up the crank, making it harder to turn […]


Each turn of the handle was recorded. Most prisoners had to complete 10000 turns a day. Meals came to depend on a required number of turns being performed. A prisoner needed 2000 to get breakfast 3000 for dinner and 3000 supper and a further 2000 before they could go to bed.

that would make me very … cranky.


Even transportation didn’t relieve these poor souls of their burden. :crying_cat_face:

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One wonders if the benefits to this cryptocurrency approach its climate change impact through the energy consumed by mining.

Considering that the benefits are and always have been ZERO, unless there is a perpetual motion machine powering all this fucknuttery the time to wonder is long past.


Yeah - but that was a punishment, wasn’t it? Why would say someone pay someone to turn a crank that did nothing?

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