Mining BTC Costs Double the Energy Needed for Mining Metals

A newly published research paper revealed that the total energy needed for BTC mining that’s worth $1 is double the amount needed for the mining of metals like gold, platinum, or copper of the exact value. It suggests that any virtual work behind BTC, ETH, or any related project is as close as ever to real mining processes than what was initially intended.


It seems $1 worth of BTC would take up around 17MJ of energy when it is mined, compared to values of 4, 5, and 7MJ for copper, gold, and platinum, respectively.

Other cryptos are not that much different as well, with the cost per $1 for ETH stands at 7MJ and monero, a crypto that’s more focused on privacy, stands at 14MJ. However, all the cryptos that were included in the research came up relatively well when put in comparison with aluminium, taking up a shocking 122MJ when mined against a $1 equivalent of ore.

What is Crypto Mining?

Mining refers to the process where blockchains are secured and verified. With BTC, the digital currency is supported by a few miners because of the lack of any centralized regulatory body to confirm its transactions. In effect, the miners enter a sort of competition and they try to waste as much electricity as possible through aimless calculations of quintillions of times per one second. When a miner wins, he gets a reward that’s worth around $8,000 in BTC along with the right to start verifying every transaction made during the last ten minutes.

A Costly Process

While the actual rewards for the winner are digital, the overall cost of the process is quite real. Attempts have been made to try to assess exactly how much of the electricity is requisite in the BTC system, which is the biggest blockchain-power network available today, have tried to focus on finding out the aggregated size of the entire network. During November of last year, one estimation was that the total energy consumption of that blockchain network was equal to that powering Ireland. Another estimation was that the network produced the exact emissions of carbon as 1 million flights across the Atlantic.

The research paper is the first of its kind to evaluate the cost of energy against the value of the dollar. The authors of the paper note that such a comparison is made in an effort to assess and contextualize the total energy demand that these mining operations require and also to force a debate about such demands, whether it’s sustainable or even appropriate considering the production that could result from the exact same amount of energy.

Taking into account the current fluctuations of crypto prices, which has resulted in more effort and expense for miners, a median value was used that was determined between January 2016 and end of June of this year. Then how BTC miners are dispersed geographically was also taken into consideration. For example, if cryptos are mined in China, the resulting carbon dioxide would be four times more than if it were done in Canada.

Looking ahead, the impact of cryptos on the environment will not just vary according to their value in the market, but also the emergence of new technology projects.

1 year ago

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