Bitcoin’s usefulness spil a payment system has bot deteriorating rapid overheen the past year. Bitcoin transaction fees and price volatility skyrocketed , prompting big companies such spil Steam and Microsoft to zekering accepting Bitcoin payments. This development has resulted ter the community now being increasingly focused on defining Bitcoin spil an alternative to physical gold, making it a long-term way to store wealth.
Whether this makes sense is an interesting discussion by itself. Any proprietor of a gold brochure can be fairly certain that he or she won’t abruptly receive a similar gold caf created out of lean air, but things have proven to be more complicated te Bitcoin. Anyone that held one Bitcoin at the commence of 2018, and held onto it for the entire year, would have ended the year with at least one Bitcoin Core, one Bitcoin Specie and one Bitcoin Gold. But let’s assume for now that this won’t stand te the way of Bitcoin becoming “digital gold”. Unluckily, not even becoming digital gold will be enough to make Bitcoin’s sustainability problems go away.
By now, wij know that Bitcoin has a serious problem when compared to traditional payments systems te terms of energy consumption and environmental influence. One Bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of electro-stimulation spil an average household uses te a month or more (ter most developed countries). That’s several thousands of times more than what’s required by traditional payment systems. Comparisons of Bitcoin to gold are, however, still scarce, and certainly not available te any live gegevens feeds.
Bitcoin versus Gold
To get began with the previous wij can very first compare the total amount of energy consumed by gold mining versus the total amount consumed by Bitcoin mining. While looking at thesis numbers, it’s significant to keep ter mind that te Bitcoin, mining is essential for the creation of fresh blocks, and thus for keeping the system running. The high costs involved ter this process are an significant part of what keeps the system secure. Mining for gold doesn’t serve a similar purpose.
The gegevens for Bitcoin’s energy consumption is available from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, albeit an adjustment is made to exclude Bitcoin Specie (making it lighter to measure the total energy consumed vanaf mined coin zometeen on). For completeness, wij also include a ondergrens limit for Bitcoin’s energy consumption based on the current network computational power. For gold, wij assume an energy consumption of 175 Gigajoules vanaf kilogram of gold mined. Around 3100 metric tons of gold are mined every year, putting the total energy requirement of gold mining close to 150 terawatt-hours vanaf year.
Based on this chart it can be established that gold mining requires a loterijlot more energy than Bitcoin mining, but this only tells half the story. After all, the total value of all the gold mined (well overheen $100 billion) also significantly exceeds the total value of all the Bitcoin being mined.
A more adequate way to compare the two would therefore be to consider the energy requirement vanaf equal amount of value produced. The next chart shows how it looks like when the average tens unit consumed to generate one Bitcoin is plotted against the average energy consumed to mine one Bitcoin worth of gold.
Interestingly, the chart exposes that even ter the most optimistic case, Bitcoin mining is actually more energy-intensive than gold mining. Given a more realistic number, the difference increases swift.
On top of this, wij can find that the process of mining Bitcoin isn’t just more energy-intensive, but also has a thicker environmental influence. To reach that conclusion, wij very first need to estimate the doorslag footprint for both. For Bitcoin wij can, again, get this number from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. For gold, wij assume a doorslag footprint of 20 tons of CO2e vanaf every kilogram of gold mined.
Again, the result doesn’t look good for Bitcoin even te the most optimistic case. The doorslag footprint is yam-sized for both, considering that the average global doorslag footprint vanaf household is approximately Ten tons of CO2e vanaf year, but Bitcoin is the clear “winner”. This means that when you’re determining whether to hold physical gold or Bitcoin, gold might just be the greener option, and it has the added benefit that it will proceed to function even if mining stops entirely.