Bitcoin Consumes As Much Power As Switzerland, But Impact Remains Negligible

Much of the conversation surrounding Bitcoin and Switzerland in recent days is focused on the cryptocurrency showing price correlation between it and the country’s native fiat currency, the Swiss franc, which is often viewed as a “safe haven” asset for investors alongside gold and the Japanese yen.
However, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge, has revealed that each year Bitcoin could consume as much electricity as the entire European country. The same study also revealed that despite powering the cryptocurrency’s network requiring such a massive amount of power by comparison, evidence shows that the impact it has on global climate change is “negligible.”
Bitcoin Uses as Much Energy as Powerful Nations Like Switzerland
The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, an academic research centre at the University of Cambridge, launched a new index called the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, that measures variables and metrics related to Bitcoin’s energy consumption.
The index website features a variety of interesting factoids and comparisons on Bitcoin consumption, ranging from how many years worth of all the tea kettles in the United Kingdom running would it take to power Bitcoin for one year, to the fact it would take the University itself would nee 365 years of operation just to use as much energy as just one year of the Bitcoin network.
The comparative study also claims that the Bitcoin network now consumes more energy in one year than the entire country of Switzerland.
Related Reading | Bitcoin Becomes “Money,” One Satoshi Now More Valuable Than Some National Currencies
Switzerland is known for being a hub for business and finance, with large data centers – yet doesn’t burn through as much energy as the first ever cryptocurrency. While powering a country may seem like a lot, the researchers behind the study claim that the impact of Bitcoin is “negligible” in terms of its contributions to climate change.

Franc Discussion: BTC Joins Switzerland’s Fiat Currency as Safe Haven Asset
They say lightning never strikes twice, but Bitcoin drawing comparisons to Switzerland has now happened twice in as many days. Not only is Bitcoin’s energy consumption being compared to Bitcoin, it’s also being compared to the nation’s fiat currency – the Swiss franc – due to its potential as a safe haven asset.
Related Reading | Prominent Investor: Mainstream Finance Is Now Considering Bitcoin As a Safe Haven Asset
As concerns over a looming economic crash fueled by the Trump administration’s trade war mount, safe haven assets have started to show signs that investors are once again preparing for the worst and hedging their capital against the perceived risk ahead.
But as investors sell of stocks and other higher risk assets into safe haven assets like gold, the Japanese yen, or the Swiss franc, they also appear to be buying up Bitcoin, too. The four assets have shown tightly correlated price charts that suggest all four of them are being considered as a flight to safety amidst any economic downturn that we may face in the coming days, weeks, months, or years.
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Ethereum [ETH] and BTC together stand 45th on the global map of energy consumption levels, says research

It is no myth that cryptocurrency transactions for mining processes require a massive volume of energy. Bitcoin undoubtedly takes the pie, but its silver brother Ethereum is not much behind. The brighter side to this is that the Blockchain carbon footprint is slowly decreasing.
A Twitter user- Digiconomist, in a recent study presented the numbers of Ethereum’s position with regards to energy consumption. He tweeted,
“The latest #Ethereum Energy Consumption Index is 7.737 TWh per Year/0.72 Mil US households (+3.9%)
44.2 KWh per unique transaction (powers 1 US household for 1.5 days) #MakeEthereumSustainable”
Consumption level for Ethereum has increased since February 2014 at a steady pace, exceeding 20 TWh four years later in late 2018. However, the subsequent drop has been pretty impressive. The consumption level fell sharply below 10 TWh early in January this year.
The stats further revealed that Ethereum’s annual consumption of electricity, which is equivalent to the consumption level of the South African nation Angola, is estimated to be 7.91 TWh, of which energy utilized per transaction is estimated to be around 45 KWh. Both annualized global mining revenues, as well as annualized global mining costs stand at a value of $790.6 million. This exorbitant amount of energy could be deployed to power over 732k households.
Ethereum holds 0.04% of the total of the world’s electricity consumption. Bitcoin, which has an annual carbon footprint of over 23 kilo-tonnes, gobbles a considerable chunk of 0.22%.
Bitcoin and Ethereum combined stand at 45th on the world’s map for energy consumption level behind Israel at 43rd and Greece at 44th.
The report further points out that over 4 million households in the US can be powered with the amount of energy used up by the Bitcoin payment network. This is mammoth as compared to the energy consumed by the silver crypto coin which could power a little less than 1 million US households, this too is no glad tiding of joy as a traditional payment system like Visa stands out as the most energy efficient.
Stressing about the magnitude of power depletion, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum earlier this year, asserted:
“That’s just a huge waste of resources, even if you don’t believe that pollution and carbon dioxide are an issue. There are real consumers—real people—whose need for electricity is being displaced by this stuff.”
The persistent energy issues that have plagued mining involved in the POW process will soon be a thing of the past however, as plans to roll out an efficient feature for the silver coin are underway.
To mitigate outrageous energy consumption and for scaling purposes of the mainstream Proof-of-stake [POS] blockchains, Ethereum will soon implement Casper. Currently, Ethereum purely rides on proof-of-work. This new POS upgrade is believed to substantially reduce power utilization by eliminating the miners all together.
In POS, the validators are equivalent to the miners. In sharp contrast however, the validators need to put up stakes [as collateral]. The higher the stakes, the more chances are to be chosen as a validator, which requires no grand computational power to legitimize a transaction on the network.
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Source: AMB Crypto

Electricity Consumption of Bitcoin is a Non-Issue: Solar Energy is Free in Some Regions

Bitcoin and its trustless, decentralized design requires a unique process called mining that validates each transaction being added to its underlying blockchain. The process involves solving complex mathematical equations, and typically requires some serious computer processing power, and even specially-designed hardware, to validate each block.
Due to the amount of energy consumed during this process, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are often demonized for contributing to global carbon emissions, potentially harming the environment. However, an overabundance of solar energy in some parts of the world may make Bitcoin’s electricity consumption a non-issue in the future.
Free Solar Energy Could Make Bitcoin Carbon Footprint Negligible
As concerns around global climate change grow, the original cryptocurrency is increasingly becoming a topic of much negativity – not just for its recent price movements, but also for its contributions to global carbon emissions. The leading cryptocurrency by market cap’s notorious energy consumption has been referred to by pundits as its “Achilles heel,” suggesting its Bitcoin’s biggest weakness.
However, these claims may be over-dramatized by naysayers and media alike, as solar energy from the sun can easily, cheaply, and effectively be harnessed to power Bitcoin mining.
Related Reading | Bitcoin Has Triggered an Energy Arms Race
Take Chile, for example. Chile has among the highest solar irradiance in the entire world, boasts Latin America’s largest solar power plant, and in general enjoys an abundance of solar power. Chile’s proximity to the equator, climate and weather conditions make the country a prime location for generating solar energy.
Chile is planning on harnessing as much as 19% of the country’s electricity using solar means by the year 2050, according to the roadmap set forth by the country’s Ministry of Energy. Chile is already over-producing so much solar power, it has been giving it away for free since 2016.
Researchers Agree: Bitcoin’s Energy Woes Are Overblown
University of Pittsburgh research associate Katrina Kelly-Pitou, whose work includes the study of clean energy technologies like solar energy says that in time, the energy consumption of new technologies eventually become more efficient, as will Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“I am a researcher who studies clean energy technology, specifically the transition toward decarbonized energy systems. I think that the conversation around bitcoin and energy has been oversimplified,” explained Kelly-Pitou.

She also explains that not all cryptocurrency mining setups should be treated as equal, suggesting that fossil-based electricity sources as found currently in China would contribute much more carbon emissions than hydro-powered mining farms such as those found in the Pacific Northwest.
Related Reading | Bitcoin Mining Energy Consumption Increases Drastically
Regardless of location, pundits should focus their negativity towards the firms mining for Bitcoin, and the sources of power they use – and stop putting the blame on Bitcoin itself.
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