BITCOIN vs. GOLD: Which One’s A Bubble & How Much Energy Do They Really Consume

by Steve St. Angelo, SRSrocco:

If you are investing in either Bitcoin or Gold, it’s important to understand which asset is behaving more like a bubble than the other.  While it’s impossible to understand how the market will value these two very different assets in the future, we can provide some logical analysis that might remove some of the mystery associated with the market price of Bitcoin versus Gold.

I’ve read some analysis on Bitcoin profitability and energy consumption that seemed unreliable, so I thought I would put my two cents in on the subject.

For example, many sites are using the Digiconomist’s work on Bitcoin energy consumption.  However, I believe this analysis has overstated Bitcoin’s energy consumption by a large degree.  According to the Digiconomist, Bitcoin’s annual electric use is approximately 24 TerraWatts per year (TWh/yr):

Digiconomist-Bitcoin-Energy-Consumption-768x355.png

In a recent article that was forwarded to me by one of my readers, How Many Barrels Of Oil Are Needed To Mine One Bitcoin, the author used the information in the chart above to calculate the energy cost to produce each Bitcoin.  He stated that the average energy cost for each Bitcoin equals 20 barrels of oil equivalent.  Unfortunately, that data is grossly overstated.

If we look at another website, the author explains in great detail the actual energy cost to produce each Bitcoin.  According to Marc Bevand, he calculated on July 28th, that the average electric consumption of Bitcoin was 7.7 TWh/yr, one-third of the Digiconomist’s figure.  Here is a chart and table from Marc Bevand’s site showing how he arrived at the figures:

Bitcoin-Has-Rate-Bevand.png

This graph shows the increase in Bitcoin’s hash rate and the efficiency of the Bitcoin Miners at the bottom.  If you want to read more detail of the analysis, I suggest you click on the link (Marc Bevand: Electricity consumption of Bitcoin: a market-based and technical analysis)

Bitcoin-Energy-Consumption-Bevand.png

The table above shows the Bitcoin energy consumption analysis on Feb 26th at a Best Guess (average) of 4.12-4.73 TWh/yr.  However, Marc updated the data again on July 28th, as the hash rate increased, to show total Bitcoin energy consumption rose to 7.15-8.27 TWh/yr.  I took the average of his range to be 7.7 TWh/yr.

Nonetheless, I had to update the number once again because it has been three months since Marc calculated his figures.  I decided to increase the 7.7 TWh/yr rate by 45% to account for the past three months.  I arrived at the 45% figure by using the 75% increase in Marc’s energy consumption figures from Feb to July.  His energy consumption figures increased approximately 15% per month.  Thus, three months equals 45%.

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