What actually consumes more electricity – bitcoin mining or video games? To answer this question, you need to compare the results of research, sources of electricity and make approximate calculations.
Recently, it is often said that a huge amount of electricity is spent on bitcoin mining, which negatively affects the state of the environment. Because of this, bitcoin is heavily criticized. Researchers at Braiins, which controls the popular SlushPool mining pool, compared the power consumption of bitcoin mining and mass video games.
Indeed, the volume of electricity consumed is constantly growing, but maybe it’s not just about mining? Let’s try to figure out how much electricity is spent on bitcoin mining in comparison with such common electronic devices as game consoles and PCs.
First, let’s compare how much energy is spent on bitcoin mining in different countries. Cambridge University has developed a special tool called the “Cambridge bitcoin electricity consumption index” (CBECI), which tracks the annual consumption of energy spent on mining this cryptocurrency. The results obtained for bitcoin are compared with the General indicators of electricity consumption in other countries. For example, in November of this year, the amount of electricity spent on bitcoin mining around the world is on a par with Colombia, Venezuela and Chile, which are considered comparable consumers of electricity.
Electricity consumption for bitcoin mining depends on the total hashrate of the network and the efficiency of the mining equipment. For example, with a hashrate of 100 EH/s, the latest ASIC miners consume much less electricity than with the same hashrate, but with the” ASICs ” of 2017.
If you can use CBECI to calculate the annual energy spent on bitcoin mining, then it is much more complicated for video games, given the wide variety of gaming devices. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles use less electricity compared to the powerful Velox gaming computers from Digital Storm, which makes calculations more difficult. In addition, game consoles and computers do not work around the clock, unlike bitcoin mining equipment.
Employees of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted a thorough study of how much electricity was spent on video games in California in 2016. The following parameters were taken into account: the popularity of various game systems, their performance and behavioral factors of players. The researchers concluded that the higher the activity of players, the more electricity consumption increases.
Taking all factors into account, it turned out that the amount of energy spent on video games in California in 2016 was 4.1 TWh per year. Now we use this data to calculate indicators for the entire country. About 40 million people live in California, and about 327 million live in the entire United States. If we consider that the behavioral factors of players all over America do not differ from California, then multiplying 4.1 TWh per year by 327/40, we get 33.5 TWh per year that America spends on video games.
To calculate the global indicators of electricity consumed on video games, use the data from NewZoo. The graph shows the revenue of the leading markets in the gaming industry for October 2017. This income is based on consumer spending excluding taxes, equipment sales, gambling and betting profits.
If the United States accounts for 32% of global gaming revenue, we can assume that the same percentage will be the amount of energy spent on video games. It turns out that all over the world, players consume 104.7 TWh per year.
Based on these approximate calculations, it can be concluded that in November 2019, video games “ate” 46% more electricity compared to bitcoin mining.
It is also important to understand where this electricity comes from. According to research company CoinShares, 74% of the electricity spent on bitcoin mining comes from renewable energy sources. About 50-60% of the total hashrate is generated in Sichuan province during the rainy season – using excess energy generated by hydroelectric power plants. At the end of the rainy season, many miners move to another area to use alternative types of” green energy ” – heat or wind.
On the other hand, according to the us Energy Information Administration, only 23% of electricity comes from renewable sources. However, given that video games are mostly played by residents of urban areas, this indicator is quite good.
According to a study conducted by the oak ridge Institute of Ohio last year, bitcoin mining consumes three times more energy than gold mining.