How efficient is the blockchain currency

Cryptocurrency More than all of Italy: Power consumption makes Bitcoin a climate killer

When it comes to things that point the way ahead, the climate has not played an unimportant role lately. Something new is actually only fashionable if it takes into account that plants, animals and people will still want to live on this planet a hundred years from now. For this reason we have been talking about electric cars for a long time: They not only drive casually, they should also be environmentally friendly. That this is such a thing is shown by the question of the traction current used, the manufacture and, in particular, the batteries.

Tesla, whose most influential figure is the South African-American entrepreneur Elon Musk, likes to play the pioneering role when it comes to cars that, apart from flying, function about the way the future was imagined. And: The company sees itself as a pioneer in the field of sustainable mobility. Apart from the fact that the new Gigafactory in the heart of Brandenburg consumes a lot of trees, water and traffic capacity, the question is also how the new investment in a crypto currency was thought of. And how that goes together with the desired sustainability. "Elon Musk and a dash of megalomania" commented Deutschlandfunk in February when it became known that Tesla had invested 1.5 billion euros in Bitcoins.

To understand why this can only be a dubious endeavor for a green company, one must first look at how Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies actually work. The term actually starts: The crypto is right, the currency is not quite. Or would you call gold a currency? But that is exactly the idea behind Bitcoins: unlike the euro, they are not an alias for a promise of what things are worth (because printing a single 200 euro note is unlikely to cost 200 euros, at least not considering the current level of inflation). Bitcoins are more like gold. And gold is limited - only 190,000 tons were mined worldwide from the beginning to the end of 2017, which is melted down a cube with an edge length of only twenty and a half meters (gold is actually quite heavy). If you have a medium-sized property on the outskirts of town, all the gold would certainly fit in there. 18 percent of this is owned by the central banks as a kind of reserve currency.

Bitcoin: more gold than euros

Because the precious metal is stable in value. And gold can be touched. Bitcoin is also inflation-proof, and you can touch it, so to speak; despite its digital properties, it is not purely virtual, but actually in the possession of the person who mined it or received it in some other way. Correct: Bitcoins are mined, also a parallel to gold. And while you sit down by the Klondike River or in the forests of Finland with the precious metal and try to decipher the mysteries of nature, with Bitcoin computers you decipher the puzzles of mathematics. They are standing in front of a virtual treasure chest with a padlock, the code of which is not just a bit of trial and error, but the calculation of which is far more complex - that makes the cryptocurrency valuable in human terms. But if everything has worked out, the prospecting or mining, as it is called in English, then there is a bitcoin in the treasure chest as a reward.

There are 21 million of them. Then they are all - like the gold on earth, only that we don't really know it. Transactions work without banks, in a so-called decentralized blockchain database. And where do the bitcoins end up? In a wallet, a digital wallet. This is the place that will also be of interest to end consumers - from here they can be passed on, for example when paying - there are now even coffeehouses that accept them. Apart from that, they are also traded on the financial market, which is why Bitcoins can also be bought. There are even ATMs for it.

Computer puzzles use a lot of electricity

So far, so good, nice concept, let's see what will come of it. The problem is the dark cloud of CO2 on the cryptocurrency horizon and it arises on several levels. While gold panning is where the energy comes from the physical condition of the people digging in the forest, Bitcoins mining works with electricity. Because somehow the computers - or shall we say: the server farms - have to be operated. Since the mining puzzles are not that easy to solve, the computers consume a lot of energy. And it has to be as cheap as possible, because the lower the energy expenditure, the higher the return. Or to put it another way: If expensive green electricity costs more than Bitcoin ultimately comes out to, I can leave it alone.