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Cryptocurrency Mining Is Generally Less Efficient Than Actual Mining
Quote:At the dawn of cryptocurrency, mining seemed like a novel and useful way to distribute digital money. You could churn away with a laptop CPU and earn Bitcoin while supporting the blockchain that verified transactions. Today, Bitcoin requires a lot more power to crunch the numbers, and the proliferation of other cryptocurrencies means even more energy spent on mining digital coins. How much energy? An analysis published in the journal Nature Sustainability says you’d generate more wealth expending that energy on real mining. Like, the digging in the ground kind of mining.
There is some variation among currencies, though. To mine the equivalent of $1, the study found Bitcoin requires 17 megajoules of power, and Monero isn’t far behind with 14 megajoules. Both Etherium and Litecoin are a bit more economical at about 7 megajoules. If you want to mine $1 of gold, that’s just 5 megajoules. Copper? 4 megajoules. Rare earth metals only consume 9 megajoules per $1. The exception is aluminum, which requires 122 megajoules per $1 of value.
Cryptocurrency is already a questionable use of energy based on the realities of mining, but the analysis from Krause and Tolaymat doesn’t even take into account all the things that go along with mining. For example, large mining operations need industrial cooling systems to keep all the machines running. Some crypto enthusiasts count on mining to become more efficient over time, but efficient hardware is also more expensive. With the value of crypto so unpredictable, operations might be wary of spending more without a guaranteed return.

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