Think Tank Reignites Debate Over Bitcoin Mining’s Environmental Effects

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Debate about the environmental effects of bitcoin mining has resurfaced following claims by an Australia-based sustainability think tank that bitcoin could eventually consume 60% of annual global electricity production. According to the Long Future Foundation’s website, its calculations are based on the assumption that 1 BTC is valued at £1m, the cost of mining this resource is $500,000 and 3,600 bitcoins are produced every day. “Bitcoin miners can get power cheaply for $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh) which means that they get 20 kWh per dollar spent,” notes the website. By multiplying these numbers (500,000 x 20 x 3,600 x 365) on its Bitcurrent calculator – an interactive spreadsheet – the foundation arrives at the conclusion that bitcoin mines would consume 13,140,000,000,000 kWh – or 13,140 terawatt hours (TWh) – per annum, or the amount of energy required to power 1.5bn homes. Guy Lane, an environmental scientist and spokesperson for the foundation, said: “While bitcoin is a virtual currency, it has very real economic, social and environmental effects […] Bitcoin has the potential to have an enormous impact on our global resources and energy use if not managed properly.” Lane explained that the foundation’s bitcoin energy model assumes that miners will spend half the value …