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


IIRC some Victorians (with the influence and authority to actually decide these things) were quite keen on the idea that prisoners would labor at non productive tasks, as it was morally appropriate to deprive prisoners of the satisfaction of “a job well done” and thereby increase the carceral aspects.

“Work is it’s own reward. Or is it? You’ll soon find out!”

Part of my brain would like to waste hours on google books, teasing apart arguments in Blackwoods and the like so as to prove or disprove this sentiment.

But part of me tells me that I have “better” and “more productive” work to do!


Do you feel the same way about buying gold? Mining gold as a source of value (as opposed to industrial or jewelry use, which is a small minority of usage) consumes massive amounts of electricity, not to mention contributing to other forms of pollution and other social problems. And unlike mining Bitcoin, mining gold doesn’t handle any transactions.


The existing currency and centralized financial infrastructure in your country works well for you? Lucky you. Rather narrow-minded to assume that everyone else is equally well-served.


An important point. From Wikipedia:

Recycling involves melting the scrap, a process that requires only 5% of the energy used to produce aluminium from ore, though a significant part (up to 15% of the input material) is lost as dross (ash-like oxide).


If I remember well, recycled aluminum can’t be used pure, it has to be corrected by adding some virgin metal, then basically doubling the energy cost (source 'how bad are bananas")
On the other and I think one major producer of aluminum is Iceland, where they have cheap and CO2 free geothermal power that can be exported as is


If energy consumption for BTC is 32 TWh/y and a bitcoin is created every ten minutes, you have:
Which means that for mining to be economical you have to pay energy less than 16$/MWh, which seems to be a very low price.

If my calculations are correct (please check!), this means that energy consumption is upper bounded by BTC price (as said by SamSam).

IMHO what we would need is a state level player (China or EU) to say something along the lines of: “this madness has to stop, we will invest in mining operations how much is needed to seize control of the BTC network and stop it” (my understanding being that if you have more than 51% of computing power you can control which transactions go on or not).
Just the announcement would crash the BTC market, if it was credible enough.


“Look, what you need to do is invest all your money in these tulips…”


There are already well established more environmentally friendly crypto currencies, that use proof of stake, such as Peercoin ( It has nothing like the market capitalisation of Bitcoin, but what does. There seems to be a crypto currency for every eventuality.


You’re right, of course. I shouldn’t underestimate the utilitarian value of this fake currency providing a focal point for social maladroits and libertarian shitweasels. Let’s set that at, oh, ten watts cummulative worldwide, shall we?


There seems to be a crypto currency for every eventuality.

Cool. Is there one for people who think we should be active and participating members of society instead of tax dodging assholes playing in their segregated sandbox?

No? hmmmm. How about a cryptocurrency that fluctuates based on the strength of the schadenfreude generated by stories like these:

To the mooooon!


In some contexts I can’t.

Besides, that’s a fucking stupid stance for BB to take. “Oh, yeah most of our regular users are savvy enough to use adblock, so really the only people we’re fucking off are n00bs - who we’d kinda like to have hang around - and people on controlled machines. Winning!”

No. Not winning. It’s fucking hateful and abusive.


Of course not.

The only limitation in “mining bitcoins” is the price of energy. This is part of the design.
If you think about it, every kind of money needs a limiting factor. For gold, the stuff is rare and deep down. For paper money, the states themselves limit the supply.
If there is no limiting factor, people will simply create huge amounts of money (because they want to be rich) and then the value of money collapses. This has happened at regular times with paper money, when states did not fulfil their role of limiting supply.

For any kind of money created by mathematical processes, as bitcoin is, the limiting factor is the complexity of the mathematical process. This directly translates into energy costs. Energy to build and especially energy to run the hardware. It is what prevents people to simply produce twice the amount of coins by having twice the amount of data processing devoted to mining them.


This would seem to imply Bitcoin serves the poor well. Empirical observation would beg to differ.


Dirty money in so many ways!


That voice speaks slightly less loudly to me it appears…

I came across this which does include some quotes discussing the relative merits for rehabilitation/punishment of purely penal labour as opposed to productive work in Natal in the 1860s.;sequence=1

Fair warning: It also includes some fascinating/disturbing stuff on the sort of punishment that the authorities thought suitable/effective for white people as opposed to natives with the usual racial epithets of the time.


Yes, I think the core problem is bitcoin’s proof of work that requires the creation of new block (on average) every 10 minutes. As more miners want to get rich doing the mining, the average payout per miner will get smaller. In theory, there will be an equilibrium point where the cost of mining is worth it compared to its rewards. But in practice, what this means is ever larger mining operations, specialized hardware, and the incentive to get “free” electricity (usually by stealing it). I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Another cryptocurrency I’ve been following for a while is Stellar. They focus on currency exchange, but their blockchain can theoretically be made generic.

They use a consensus approach, whereby new ledger entries are added and approved based on how many other people in your trusted network also approve the same entries. It turns out that it is way faster than mining and way less energy intensive.

Though the true bitcoin enthusiasts hate this model because it can lead to some amount of centralization as the most trusted nodes turn out to be real world entities like banks and government institutions.

But, they also seem to have no problem with the centralization of bitcoin mining happening primarily in China and sometimes by shady operations stealing energy from the public.


As long as the aluminum atoms are still there, it isn’t unrecyclable.


As usual, the libertarian goons fail to account for negative externalities borne by the wider public.


The Penal Treadmill was apparently also called the Cockchafer; as, if you failed to keep up the pace, your feet could slip off the steps, leaving you hanging by your manacles, and bringing you groin in to contact with edges of the steps as they revolved.


Well I haven’t seen the issue you’re complaining about, but it highlights why I use adaware.

I agree with your sentiment about the store. It’s for people who haven’t heard of Amazon. Notice they killed the comments on the posts. One reason why I made a post about using a $5 cord to transfer your old mix tapes to MP3, rather than their fancy device they were peddling. I guess one might feel good about it as it supports the BB bills (I assume?). But still…