With its growing network and the rise in volumes, bitcoin transactions have been taking up more time and energy to complete. Some have warned that bitcoin transactions might no longer be ecologically sustainable, with a critic claiming that one verification takes up enough energy to power 1.57 US households in a day.
Christopher Malmo wrote in Vice’s Motherboard blog that the cryptocurrency transactions use up around 5,000 times electricity as it does to complete a VISA transaction. He estimated that the total power consumption of the bitcoin network is anywhere from 250 to 500 Megawatts (MW), giving a constant power draw is just under 215 MW.
Bitcoin Transactions Efficiency
Of course all this power is translated into creating a secure network of bitcoin transactions that are verified by several computers and are therefore practically immutable.“It appears there are significant challenges to ensuring that Bitcoin’s growth minimizes environmental impacts,” Malmo quoted Jeremy McDaniels, a financial system sustainability expert with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Energy footprints could be an issue if major scale-up is achieved.”
Malmo emphasized that bitcoin’s power usage per transaction isn’t remotely sustainable as a wholesale replacement for the conventional financial system. Some have suggested increasing the block size limit so that the network can accommodate more bitcoin transactions and complete verification at a shorter time span with lower associated energy costs, but this idea has also been met with a lot of opposition.
Of course Malmo also noted that there are variables in his calculation that can still be changed. He admits that admits bitcoin’s mining power demands won’t scale up linearly with increased usage or transactions.
For now, it seems that these ecological challenges aren’t enough to deter the Greeks from buying up bitcoin, as their country faces imminent default on its debts. Capital controls have already been imposed, leading to the closure of some banks and ATM withdrawal limits, leading the Greeks to move their funds to bitcoin.