Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.
Not so fast, said county officials. They pointed to a different culprit: a giant coal plant halfway across the state. If energy from the dam went to bitcoin mining, they said, the county as a whole would wind up using more coal. In April, officials required all future mines to build their own renewable power.
Missoula County was on the right track, says Christian Stoll, an energy researcher at the Technical University of Munich. In a paper published Wednesday in the journalJoule,his team takes a closer look at the energy consumption of bitcoin mining, based on where miners are located and the types of machines they are using. “Coal is fueling Bitcoin,” he says. “The question is how to prevent it, and that’s up to local regulators.”
Bitcoin mining, a process called “proof-of-work,” involves a global network of machines racing to solve complex math. In return for helping to keep the network secure, the solver receives bitcoin. When it comes to measuring energy use, the global nature of that activity makes it difficult to study; it’s hard to know what kinds of machines are running, where they’re located, and the fuel used to supply the electricity.
Those unknowns have led to wildly varying estimates. One study said that growth in bitcoin mining alone could result in a 2 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures. But others say such estimates are inflated as miners increasingly flock to sources of cheap renewable energy, like hydropower.
Stoll’s team was able to take a more granular look thanks to a stroke of good timing. Last year, three Chinese makers of mining hardware, responsible for producing nearly all of t
Be the first to write a comment.