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Power Consumption for Bitcoin Mining Is Now Ranked 61st in the World

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Bitcoin Miners
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Bitcoin prices have been towering in the past couple of weeks. This is cause for celebration for users who have heavily invested in the cryptocurrency; but, it appears the value of bitcoin is not the only thing that has hit the roof in 2017. Bitcoin mining energy consumption has also reached new heights.

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A research study conducted by PowerCompare—a U.K.-based company for energy comparison tariff—found that the average power used to mine bitcoins this year has already gone beyond the annual energy consumption for some 159 countries. In particular, the global average power spent on bitcoin mining has far outstripped the energy consumption in Ireland and a couple of African countries.

This new study was based on data from Digiconomist, whose current estimation of power used to mine bitcoin hovers around 30.14 TWh annually. This figure is way above Ireland power consumption that currently stands at 25 TWh yearly.  In fact, recent research from Dutch Bank ING found out that one bitcoin transaction consumes sufficient electricity to power an average household for a whole month.

At this rate, if bitcoin miners were a single country, it would be positioned 61st in the world based on power consumption, comparable to Slovakia and Morocco. PowerCompare has already predicted that if the trend continues, bitcoin mining will expend the entire world’s electricity by February of 2020!

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Why bitcoin mining is increasing power consumption levels

What makes bitcoin mining an energy black hole?

Apparently, it is the computational requirements that process the complex cryptographic problems that miners must solve to be rewarded with the cryptocurrency. Just like other notable cryptos such as Ethereum and Litecoin, Bitcoin depends on miners to validate transactions performed in their respective blockchains.

To verify transactions, miners are required to solve complex mathematical problems, which on becomes increasingly difficult as more and more miners join the mining bandwagon. The more byzantine the cryptographic problems, the more the processing power that is needed to solve them.

In the case of bitcoin—the most popular cryptocurrency—a multitude of miners now make it absolutely necessary to use ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) which consume considerable amounts of electricity. At present, ASICs have been designed to provide far more efficient computations, both in terms of the hash rate and power consumption when compared to CPU or GPU mining.

But the ASICs haven’t really resolved the hurdles of power consumption.

Ideally, the use of ASICs meant that the total time required to validate new blocks drastically reduces too. This hasn’t happened because of the way the bitcoin protocol was conceived. Apparently, the mining difficulty in bitcoin ensures that the total time taken for generation of new blocks must be kept constant.

As a matter of fact, the Bitcoin network automatically alters the difficulty level for bitcoin mining to ensure the discovery of new blocks every 10 minutes by miners based on two factors. First, there is the global block difficulty that forces valid blocks to have a hash value that is below the target to ensure the difficulty level is maintained.

Second, the number of miners that are actively participating in the mining process has been soaring, meaning the difficulty level has remained constant for a while now. Also, the mining difficulty automatically adjusts after every 2016 blocks on the Bitcoin network. Depending on how many users were actively mining – together with their combined hashpower—and the time it takes to find the 2016 blocks, the difficulty can either go up or down.

As the mining difficulty increases, miners should acquire more powerful hardware to accommodate for the adjustment which again increases the computational electricity. It is also worth noting that there is no maximum mining difficulty that has been set for the Bitcoin network. There is a possibility that the mining difficulty will continue to rise until all the Bitcoins are mined have been mined by the year 2140.

This means that power consumption in Bitcoin is not likely to decrease in the near future.

Challenges of mining Bitcoins

Here are some challenges of Bitcoin mining:

#1: Environmental hazards

The massive growth of cryptos has set up an exponential demand for processing power. The inordinate amounts of power required to mine bitcoins make it an environmental hazard since much of the earth’s electricity is still generated from greenhouse-gas-generating fossil fuels. This implies that bitcoin mining could be contributing to the climate changes and global warming.

#2: Stumbling block for mass adoption

The bitcoin cryptocurrency was conceived as a decentralized, peer-to-peer and trustless currency free from regulations of government agencies and financial institutions such as banks. Unfortunately, the adoption rate is discouraging. This can partly be attributed to the high energy consumption costs.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the HINUI (Hamilton Institute at the National University of Ireland) found that the cost of Bitcoin mining on the commodity hardware at present far exceeds the price of the rewards. In fact, Bitcoin mining has now been left to the big players who have the money to buy expensive ASICs with some of them leasing their hardware to small players in the so-called cloud mining.

#3: Rise of illegal piracy

In order to work around the hurdles of power-intensive requirements of bitcoin mining, some users have resorted to using dirty tricks to obtain the computational power from other people’s machines. A recent study published by Futurism found that Pirate Bay has covertly been testing a Javascript mining app on their website which allocates a huge volume of their visitors’ CPUs for purposes of mining the cryptocurrencies.

While the website in question was developed to help users in illicitly downloading files such as games, movies, and music, the JavaScript app hijacks the users’ CPUs to mine cryptocurrencies which is illegal.

Conclusion

The rise of bitcoin values is a cause for celebration in the crypto universe. It means that the entire global community is beginning to appreciate the value of cryptocurrencies in the world economy. However, mining energy consumption is soaring at an alarming rate. The quicker we find mechanisms to make bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining electricity use “greener,” the better it would be for the Blockchain technology that is often heralded as the next internet.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Altcoins

Fears of Regulatory Crackdown Flush $190 Billion Out of Crypto Market

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Bitcoin, Ethereum and every other major cryptocurrency collapsed on Tuesday, as fears of regulatory clampdown in South Korea triggered a mass exodus from the digital asset class. The collapse comes as mainstream media reports continue to push the idea of an imminent ban on cryptocurrency exchanges even as lawmakers cautioned no decision had been reached.

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Cryptocurrency Market in Free Fall

The cryptocurrency market declined rog $190 billion on Tuesday, marking one of the biggest single-day drops on record. At its lowest, the market was valued at $510 billion,  which was than $200 billion below its peak earlier this month.

The top 20 coins were each down in excess of 17%, according to data provider CoinMarketCap. Nearly $49 billion worth of cryptocurrency exchanged hands over the past 24 hours.

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Bitcoin plunged below $12,000, reaching its lowest level since early December. Ethereum, its biggest rival, fell back toward $1,000, while Ripple bottomed out at $1.23 after peaking above $3 just a few weeks ago.

South Korea Jolts Market

It was mainly regulatory issues that jolted cryptocurrencies on Tuesday, with South Korea mulling new legislation to stamp out excessive risk from the market.

South Korea’s finance minister Kim Dong-yeon reportedly told local radio that an all-out ban on cryptocurrency trading was a “live option, but that government officials still need to “seriously review it.” Seoul’s biggest issue with cryptocurrency trading is the level of speculation in the market and the role of anonymous accounts in spurring volatility. New regulations have already banned anonymous trading on domestic exchanges and barred foreigners from participating in the market.

Last week, some of South Korea’s busiest crypto exchanges were raided by police and tax agents over alleged tax evasion. The raids were confirmed by an employee at Coinone, who spoke to Reuters anonymously.

Seoul’s financial authorities had previously indicated they were investigating six banks that offer cryptocurrency accounts. In addition to speculative risks, authorities are also concerned about the link between cryptocurrency trading and organized crime.

South Korea is a major center for cryptocurrency and is home to some of the largest exchanges. Local traders have been the main catalysts behind some of the crypto market’s biggest gainers, including Ripple.

Some analysts believe that further regulatory crackdown will be ineffective given the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. When China banned cryptocurrencies, traders there migrated their accounts offshore to Hong Kong or Korea. This suggests that a regulatory crackdown can only succeed with broad international cooperation, which does not exist at the time.

Chinese regulators know that their measures have done very little to limit virtual capital flight from the country. That’s why they are moving to block domestic access to offshore exchanges, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Analysis

Long-Term Cryptocurrency Analysis: Broad Correction Enters Next Phase

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The overbought BTC-led correction that has been the dominating technical process in the cryptocurrency segment in the last month or so continued in earnest today, amid the intensifying regulatory steps concerning the sector. The three-week-long consolidation that followed the initial mini-crash concluded with a sharp sell-off overnight rearranging the long-term charts, while likely kicking off another volatile period.

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While most of the crash lows held up today in early trading in the majors, especially in the case of the late leaders like Ethereum and NEO, some of the relatively weaker coins are already trading below the December minimums. We expect most of the majors to follow Dash and LTC, the weakest of the largest coins, lower and trade below the previous lows, as sentiment will likely swing to a bearish extreme.

The $11,300 level has been in the center of attention throughout the session today and the most valuable coin experienced heavy trading around the level as expected. As the daily MACD is still in neutral territory, the coin could be in for another leg lower, but after the 40% correction and the rather lengthy consolidation, investors could be looking for entry points during the move near the key support levels at $10,000, $9000, and the stronger levels at $8200 and $7700.

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BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

As Ethereum is in a different part of its cycle the long-term momentum readings are still overbought, and that could mean a more protracted correction for the second largest coin. That said, following a multi-month consolidation like the one in Ethereum before, we still expect the token to outperform BTC from a long-term technical standpoint. ETH is now below the short-term trendline, and it’s likely to dip below $1000, and the prior top at $850. Further key levels are found at $740, $625, $575, and near $500.

ETH/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

Let’s see the outlook for the other major altcoins after today’s bloodbath.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Analysis

Crypto Update: Chinese Crackdown Triggers Next Leg of Correction

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The cryptocurrency segment is crashing again, with double-digit losses across the board, and with several coins shedding around 30% in one day amid the widespread and heavy selling. The sell-off was triggered by reports on a new set of measures by the Chinese authorities limiting crypto trading, which added to the still looming South Korea related regulation worries. Bitcoin tested the mini-crash lows at $11,300 today in early trading, dipping slightly below that level before a strong bounce started.

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The most valuable coin is now between two crucial support/resistance lines, with the other ahead at $13,000, and as the downtrend is entering its more mature phase the $10,000 and $9,200 levels could come in play, with a possible dip to the support zone near $7,650.

BTC/USD, Daily Chart Analysis

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Interestingly, the coin is still hovering within the daily range of the crash of December 22nd, and that points to a very active and volatile period ahead near the low at $11,300, as automatic orders will likely get triggered on both sides of the market.

The short-term setup is bearish, and although it’s possible that the primary support level will hold, odds still favor another leg lower, following the exponential run-up at the end of last year that pushed sentiment into bullish extremes.

BTC/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Altcoins

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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