“Bitcoin mining consumes as much electricity as a country like Finland”

COops cold on technology at the start of the year. Stars of the times of containment, the kings of video conferencing, home delivery and internet video are taking the blame. Their favorite stock exchange, the Nasdaq, has lost nearly 7% since the start of the year. Cryptocurrencies have followed the same path. Which is both logical and paradoxical since these digital currencies without a State were supposed to constitute, like gold, solid shelters against the risks of inflation and market reversals. This is currently not the case.

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However, large Wall Street institutions, such as asset manager Fidelity and Goldman Sachs bank, had shaken bitcoin out of its bad reputation as an instrument for laundering dirty money. But two major obstacles still stand in its way: States do not like them and their environmental record is disastrous.

Complex equations

The explanation for this situation can be found in the mine. Virtual mines, but all the same made up of thousands of battery-powered computers, tidy in huge, very physical sheds. These machines spend their time solving complex equations that authorize every bitcoin transaction. Gone are the days of amateurs who solved these puzzles on their computers for payment in new bitcoin.

To reduce its emissions, save resources and protect its own digital currency, Beijing decided, in June 2021, to ban mining activity.

Make way for heavily equipped manufacturers. Long operations which require considerable amounts of energy. Bitcoin mining consumes as much electricity as a country like Finland. In total, this single cryptocurrency activity represents a third of the electricity consumption of all digital infrastructures in the world.

This poses a major environmental question, especially when this energy comes from coal-fired power stations, as in China. Until June 2021, half of the world’s mining was carried out in this country. To reduce its emissions, save resources and protect its own digital currency, Beijing decided, in June 2021, to ban this activity. The miners fled to neighboring countries rich in natural resources like Mongolia and Kazakhstan. But the latter quickly understood, seeing his consumption explode in the midst of an energy crisis, that there was danger. He was not wrong, since energy prices were the trigger for the first riots in the country earlier this year.

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