Researchers at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education have concluded a study that finds that mining a dollar’s worth of Bitcoin consumes more energy than digging up a dollar’s worth of gold, Tech Xplore reports.
"We now have an entirely new industry that is consuming more energy per year than many countries," said Max Krause, lead author of the study. "In 2018, Bitcoin is on track to consume more energy than Denmark."
In 2015, Denmark consumed 31.4 billion kilowatt-hours in electricity. Whereas in July this year, Bitcoin used roughly 30.1 billion kilowatt-hours, the study found.
Krause and Thabet Tolaymat, an environmental engineer based in Ohio, calculated the average energy consumed to create one dollar's worth of the top four cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero – over a 30 month period ending June 2018.
They found that:
· Bitcoin: 17 megajoules
· Ethereum: 7 megajoules
· Litecoin: 7 megajoules
· Monero: 14 megajoules
A joule is a unit of energy equivalent to the work required to produce one watt of power for one second.
According to the study, that’s three times more energy required to extract gold, platinum and copper.
However, as a counterargument, Chepicap recently reported that in some cases, mining Bitcoin actually leads to the development of greener energy sources. Additionally, studies often don't take into consideration that the majority of Bitcoin mining operations are based in China, which uses coal-burning power stations.