It costs less to mine gold than it does to mine Bitcoin

The inefficiency of mining Bitcoin laid bare…

Over the past few weeks, the criticism aimed at Bitcoin mining has grown. Chiefly for the fact that Bitcoin uses a lot of electricity to mine, leading to suggestions that mining the cryptocurrency alone could have a significant impact on global warming. You can read all about that here.

Now, according to a new piece of research published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the stark cost of mining Bitcoin has been laid bare.

The research concludes that it takes 17 megajoules of energy to mine a dollar’s worth of Bitcoin. To get hold of a dollar’s worth of gold, meanwhile, takes 5 megajoules of energy. Bitcoin, bluntly, takes more than three times the amount of energy. And then you don’t even get any gold at the end of it all.

Other cryptos fare only slightly better. Ethereum takes 9 megajoules of energy to mine, Monero takes 11 and Litecoin 15.

There is one precious metal that dwarfs the amount of energy cryptocurrencies demand. Aluminium takes a staggering 122 megajoules to mine one dollar’s worth.

The name of the paper is Quantification of Energy and Carbon costs for Mining Cryptocurrencies (catchy), and the research for it took place between 1st January 2016 and 30th June 2018 (with accommodations introduced to counter the extreme price volatility of cryptocurrencies in that period). You can buy a copy of it here.

Cryptocurrency mining has been in decline for most of 2018, as the price of the likes of Bitcoin has fallen. Still, one further run on the price, and don’t be surprised if mining starts to soar too.

Image: BigStock