Bitcoin, World Energy Use & Prospects For Growth

Bitcoin, World Energy Use & Prospects For Growth

Time Magazine has defended the social viability for the spread of Bitcoin, proclaiming that “stopping the movement of [Bitcoin] will be possible only if countries are willing to impose harsh taxes and capital controls. Once alternative currencies are frictionlessly available on the Internet, every laptop will become its own Cayman Island.”

All sorts of characters have come out of the woodworks to take a swing at Bitcoin. As Bloomberg wrote:

Blockchain.info, a site that tracks data on Bitcoin mining, estimates that in just the last 24 hours, miners used about $147,000 of electricity just to run their hardware, assuming an average price of 15 cents per kilowatt hour … That’s enough to power roughly 31,000 U.S. homes, or about half a Large Hadron Collide

Bloomberg demonstrates concern over the green implications of Bitcoin. For one who wishes to subject themselves to this line of reasoning, there is more to fear. In a novel story in Science by Diego Reforgiato, it is suggested that Internet traffic volume tends to double every three years. The world’s IT infrastructure will take up 19 percent more energy in 2013 than in 2012.

That means exponential potential for growth in Bitcoin. The amount of computer processing increasing means an increased possibility for Bitcoin usage. Over time, the possibility for this usage increases as the Internet becomes busier. This 2011 study by Stephen Ruth of George Mason University conjectures that entire global information and communications technology industry accounts for but “3-5 percent” of the world’s electricity use.

For now, unfortunately, most computing infrastructure comes from wireless and cellular networks, with data enters using but 10 percent of the electricity involved. For a freer Internet, the usage of independently run data centers will have to increase, with direct implications for the success of Bitcoin. On the existing wireless infrastructure, users remain at the behest of Big Tech.