No, Bitcoin will not boil the oceans. Instead of worrying about the speed with which bitcoin will melt the ice caps, it’s worth considering how much energy can be saved. Bitcoin “miners” who process transactions in exchange for new currencies must struggle to solve extremely difficult cryptographic riddles. This IT burden is helping to secure the transaction registry – raising the bar for anyone who wants to tamper with it – but also forcing miners to build gigantic server farms that consume huge amounts of energy. The more valuable bitcoin is, the more miners are willing to spend on equipment and electricity.
However, it is important to put things in perspective. A recent report suggests that, at current prices, Bitcoin miners will consume around 8.27 terawatt hours per year. This may seem like a lot, but it is actually less than one-eighth of what American data centers use 1 and only about 0.21% of the total US consumption. It also compares favorably to the currencies and commodities that Bitcoin could help replace: Global production of cash and coins consumes about 11 terawatt hours per year, while gold mining burns the equivalent of 132 terawatt hours. And this does not include armored trucks, bank safes, security systems, etc. So, in the right context, bitcoin is positively green.
In addition, the consumption of bitcoins will not necessarily continue to increase as it did. Data centers, for example, have improved a lot. Not so long ago, the Ministry of Energy predicted that its electricity consumption would double every five years, and Google was criticized for consuming enough to power 200,000 homes. In recent years, however, the total electricity consumption of the centers has decreased even though their numbers have continued to grow. In the end, better cooling and power management technology has improved efficiency. Bitcoin miners are no less motivated by profit, so it goes without saying that they will seek to become more efficient and use the cheapest energy available, which usually means hydro and other renewable sources .
The bitcoin network has the potential to generate many benefits. How much is his money worth? What about the possibility of sending money freely across borders without the authorization or central counterpart involved? Or own an asset that can not be entered? Americans and other developed countries could take these things for granted, but people in countries like Zimbabwe and Venezuela are turning to bitcoin for their survival. So, perhaps all these calculations are not useless: maybe the miners simply transform energy into something more precious.