Jonathan Koomey, an expert on energy consumption from Berkeley Labs, has stated that the numbers on energy consumption of bitcoin mining could be greatly overestimated, on an NBC article yesterday. He said this in response to a study that stated that the energy used by the whole bitcoin mining network could be the same that a country like Austria uses.
Jonathan Koomey is a guest scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in the Energy Technologies Area. He has researched the carbon footprint of information technologies and its effects on the environment. He has published papers about the energy requirements of data centers, office equipment and how to maximize their efficiency.
Koomey talks about some uncertainties in the report published earlier this week by Alex de Vries, Senior Consultant & Blockchain Specialist at PwC and Founder of the blog Digiconomist, where he states that the bitcoin mining network could be consuming more than half a percent of the world energy by the end of this year. About this, he stated that:
“For two decades, people have been eager to overestimate electricity use by computing. My concern is that we simply don’t have adequate data to come to the strong conclusions that he’s coming to.”
He thinks that there are two fundamentals variables that are estimated from thin air, being those the energy consumed by every mining machine and the price paid for that energy. He criticized the way in which those numbers are managed and used to get to the energy figures that the study found. He declared:
“There may be some basis for them, but it’s a very unreliable way to do these kinds of calculations, and nobody who does this for a living would do it like that. It’s odd that someone would.”
The same De Vries acknowledged that the numbers of the study were based on estimates and that the paper he wrote is made to raise awareness of the mining energy requirements of the bitcoin network. But one thing is certain, mining activities are energy intensive processes and will continue to be in the near future.