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Author Topic: THIS IS AN ISSUE: Bitcoin mining network uses a min. of 257 Megawatts per hour.  (Read 2166 times)
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GlassWerx
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December 27, 2015, 10:02:18 PM
 #1

So in an after class discussion today i brought up bitcoin mining and how it was revolutionizing "transfer of value" or commerce. My professor challenged us to calculate roughly how much energy is consumed per hour, day, month, and year to explain why this was not a sustainable venture. I dont care to speculate about its sustainability but at the end of a few short math problems i quickly realized how much of a problem the bitcoin mining network is and that is what i am here to share / talk about. Please keep on topic with that as the sustainability of the network is of no interest to me and i am really only here to see if there was an aspect or angle of looking at the power consumption that i had not realized.

Now onto the math

At my best calculation the most efficient miner on the market today is the bitmain S7, drawing roughly 1293W + 10% for 4.73 TH/s, for the sake of calculation we are going to assume the entire network is that efficient.

So to start we take 1293W / 4.73 TH/s to calculate that the draw is roughly 273.3W per TH/s

So the network would be running @ a rate of 273.3W per TH/s

According to blockchain.info at the time of writing this, the bitcoin network is running 943,007 TH/s

To calculate the energy draw on the world grid we would then take the network has rate, assume everything was as efficient as the S7 and do the math.

943,007 TH/s X 273.3 W per hour and come up with 257,723,813 Watts per hour, or translated into a more friendly number roughly  257.724 MegaWatts of power per hour.

So to put that in perspective assuming the entire network was as efficient as the S7 again our network consumes:

Per hour: = 257.724 Mwh (That is over half the energy produced by the smallest nuclear power plant in the U.S.A)
Per day:  = 6,185.376 Mwh or 6.186 GWh (to put this into perspective Gigawatts is the unit of measurement they use for nuclear power plants)
Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)


Annually at its current rate as of now the bitcoin network consumes 2226.96 GWh annually. Edited to reflect a mistake in the original math.

THAT IS A SUPER SCARY AMOUNT OF ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION AND A METRIC-FUCK-TON OF A LOT OF FOSSIL FUEL CONSIDERING A MINUTE SEGMENT OF THE WORLDS ENERGY IS GREEN.


Now, with that being said, my math might be a little off, there might be a few factors I did not account for as i am not a big bitcoin fanatic like most of the members on this site, but none the less at surface value these numbers are a close guess i know. Knowing that the bulk of the network is not up to the S7's efficiency standard, i know that even if my math was a high calculation that the true numbers are in the ballpark i estimated or higher.

Let's have a civil discussion about this and as a group see how close to a true calculation we can come up with, and maybe speculate a little about what we could do to help combat this problem.

NOTE: THIS IS A SELF MODERATED TOPIC, THERE WILL BE NO ARGUING, RUDENESS, TROLLING OR OFF TOPIC GARBAGE HERE, LETS ALL BE GROWN UP'S AND HAVE A CIVIL, CONSTRUCTIVE DISCUSSION. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE SOMETHING USEFUL OR INSIGHTFUL TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISCUSSION THEN PLEASE MOVE ON AND SAVE ME FROM MODERATING
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December 27, 2015, 10:36:26 PM
 #2

Note post edited and comparisons now far less dramatic in the light of a correction to the figures by the OP...

Interesting set of numbers, something I had been meaning to do for a while. Assuming I have the decimal place in the correct place this is the same as the entire electricity consumption in Libya in 2008 or closer to my Home 1/15 of the electricity consumption in the UK in 2013.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption



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December 28, 2015, 02:19:29 AM
 #3

Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)[/b]

Annually at its current rate as of now the bitcoin network consumes 67,736 GWh annually.

It sounds like you're using a magical device that gives you 365 months in a year. I wish I had that. I'd get so much more work done.

Also, "Megawatts per hour" is a nonsensical phrase. Try http://www.nwedible.com/of-watts-and-watt-hours/.

I'll quote this for good measure, but only because I am making an example out of this post that I am deleting.


If I understand correctly and take the "I wanna be an @$$hole" out of your post, what i am assuming you meant is "Hey, i found a problem with your math" The civil and appropriate thing to do would be to simply say just that, and if you want to be useful or a part of the conversation you could even show where the problem with the math is and explain what the mistake was so i can re-calculate.

To be clear to any future posters, if you cannot be civil, or constructive don't waste your time posting because it will be deleted and rendered non-existent.


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December 28, 2015, 04:34:04 AM
 #4

Well let's use 300 megawatts. As the math is easy and most likely we are closer to 300 then 257.

so 300 x 24 = 7200 Mega watts a day.  So Niagara Falls  can max at 2400 megaWatts  at best or 5 to 8x the current power used by the network

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls#Power    =  pretty green power.



You need to realize that btc is a driving force for solar plants in states like New Jersey.

If I use 2 acres of idle land to build a 60kWatt solar farm that mixes mining with selling power to the grid it can be very green.

Solar grids tied into the grid can prevent  fuel from being burned.

If my 60 kwatt grid mines with 20kwatt and sells back 40kwatt to the grid that is forty kwatts never burning fuel.  Solar = pretty green power




Granted most mining is done in China and they have an excess of population so burning

Coal that is very polluting and killing citizens is condoned by the Chinese government as non violent birth  population control.

The problem with the last sentence is that btc will not be stopped for being dirty it will be allowed and subsidized as it helps to control the Chinese population.

I would suggest you write that this is why btc is flourishing. Electric power is cheap in China so that btc works.
All done by Chinese officials so that population is lowered by bad polluted coal burning plants.

My facts match. I do feel for all the people in China being subjected to bad air caused by coal burning plants.

I mine alt coins with https://simplemining.net...
I see BTC as the super highway and alt coins as taxis and trucks needed to move transactions.
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December 28, 2015, 04:55:56 AM
 #5

Even if your calculations are accurate it means nothing unless you compare it to something.
For example:
How many trees are cut down and used to make the millions of checks written everyday?
How much power is used to make the checks from trees (cutting them, hauling them, processing them etc)
How much power is used by banks and clearing houses to process checks and transactions everyday?
How much gasoline is used to get the people to work that work at the hundreds of thousands of banks?
How much energy and time is used to police the fraud related to Hot Checks, Credit Card Fraud etc?

On and On and On...

I suspect that the amount of energy expenditure for our banking system is WAY beyond bitcoin mining and do not forget the ledger that is maintained by the blockchain.

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December 28, 2015, 05:03:09 AM
 #6

I don't really a see problem as its a tiny portion of the global electricity use, its a negligible portion of the pollution caused globally, in term of heat generated/wasted as it does not generate gaz which cause the global warming.

Global warming is caused by gaz emitted that block the heat in the atmosphere, the actual heat we are wasting here has no impact whatsoever on this. So far, we're not causing much pollution and we're using an infinitesimal amount of the renewable energy we have access to.

The whole thing has two aspect, consumption and production;

1) So while dumping heat itself is not really a problem, you can still make the most of it. Turning back the heat into electricity is not really feasible, so that leave a unconverted use of the heat; Heating people's dwelling.

We could compare to how much energy is being put into dwelling heating per year, but i think we get the point. If all the ASIC's in place where we need the heat, we would not be wasting any output.

2) How is the electricity we use for the ASIC is produced in the first place? Well now this is a very large debatable sub-topic. The way i see it; It does not matter as far as Bitcoin is related.

My logic;
If a company gets its hand on X amount of fossil fuel to generate Y amount of electricity. Z amount of pollution is going to be produced, whatever the demand for electricity is for. There is really nothing we can do about that, but wait for laws to be passed to ban or greatly reduce the amount of pollution we produce because of horrible way of producing electricity.

If its the small portion of the electricity is not used by miners, it might take a bit more time to go through the fossil fuel, but we will anyways. Ultimately the same amount of pollution will be generated no matter what, until we ban it, or run out.

TLDR: Its up for a country and or companies or maybe even individuals to switch to clean, renewable source of electricity production. Where i live, we're almost exclusively on hydroelectricity. And i would need to use the electricity anyways to heat up during most of the year since its cold here.

Its like blaming cars for generating so much pollution. Its a lie for people with narrow sight.

We have the technology and the ressources to switch every cars to long distance capable electric cars. In term of energy consumption, it would be completely clean. Yet we don't do it.

This is absolutely the same thing for Bitcoin.

The reason is that some people and companies makes money out of generating immense amount of pollution. You can blame "the gun" if you want. But i think its the "person holding the gun" that is to blame.
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December 28, 2015, 05:25:20 AM
 #7

Yes and as for BTC China has to big gun and is using it to make btc at the price of bad air.

Chinese government could simply charge 13 cents for power used for mining btc

They don't they allow three cents.  They are burning some of the dirtiest coal plants in the world to make those coins. China has some of the worst air in the world most caused by cheap coal plant power.

To the op btc will do well since China could lose 200 million people over the next two decades due to bad air from coal power and still have too many people.

Sad but true.

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I see BTC as the super highway and alt coins as taxis and trucks needed to move transactions.
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December 28, 2015, 07:47:29 AM
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There is a problem with your math. It is off by a factor of 30.4 due to you using 365 months in a year instead of 12 months in a year.

Also, there is a conceptual flaw in your use of the term "Megawatts per hour" in the title as well as "Megawatts of power per hour" in the body of your text. This indicates that you do not understand the difference between energy and power. This is a fairly common point of confusion. I suggest you read an article such as http://www.nwedible.com/of-watts-and-watt-hours to clarify the difference. Note that "Megawatts per hour" would be MW/h, which is very different from "Megawatt hours" which would be MWh. However, both would be incorrect in this context, as you are using the terms in a way that suggests you simply mean "Megawatts."

In general, you should just use megawatts (power) for this kind of task, and ignore the megawatt hour stuff (energy), as using energy in calculations adds the complexity of differing time periods for no good reason. When figures are listed in strange units like MWh per year (e.g. Austria's consumption is 65,670,000 MWh/year), the most convenient thing to do is to divide by the number of hours in a year to calculate the average power: (65670000 MWh/yr) / (365.*24 h/yr) = 7496 MWh/h = 7496 MW. That lets you see easily that Austria uses about 20x as much power as the current Bitcoin mining network.

Hosting bitcoin miners for $65 to $80/kW/month on clean, cheap hydro power.
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December 28, 2015, 08:18:22 AM
 #9

It will be nice to see a comparison - something like this:

Cost of running bitcoin network  VS  sum of all bank transfers fees on annual bases around the world

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December 28, 2015, 09:23:50 AM
 #10

We run on 100% hydro-electric power so fossil fuel use is not an issue.    Many mines do not have this access so it does create pollution.  What I would say is that Bitcoin is worth the pollution because it decentralizes power to people in a fairer manner.

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December 28, 2015, 09:36:40 AM
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We run on 100% hydro-electric power so fossil fuel use is not an issue.    Many mines do not have this access so it does create pollution.  What I would say is that Bitcoin is worth the pollution because it decentralizes power to people in a fairer manner.
I agree with you. The pollution caused by bitcoin mining is worth it because it decentralizes the money system.

I think that after some time we will be seeing more green mining farms in operation.
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December 28, 2015, 02:30:25 PM
 #12

There is a problem with your math. It is off by a factor of 30.4 due to you using 365 months in a year instead of 12 months in a year.


OP has been edited to update and reflect the mathematical error.

The correct minimal estimated annual energy consumption for the bitcoin network is 2226.96 GWh per year. [/b]
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December 28, 2015, 02:39:20 PM
 #13

As noted above, its important to compare the energy use of bitcoin to the existing alternatives.

The primary alternative (in terms of a system of transferring value) are national monetary policies. And look at how much energy they burn!

I'm no economist, but I surmise that the primary reason that USA gets all of its trinkets etc from china is due to national monetary policies. What is the carbon footprint of these policies? Tankers and freightliners cruising across the oceans, blah blah blah.

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December 28, 2015, 07:24:23 PM
 #14

.
Per hour: = 257.724 Mwh (That is over half the energy produced by the smallest nuclear power plant in the U.S.A)
Per day:  = 6,185.376 Mwh or 6.186 GWh (to put this into perspective Gigawatts is the unit of measurement they use for nuclear power plants)
Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)


.

I have a number of issues/comments with the above discussion.  

1) A GWh (Gigawatt hour) is a unit of Energy.  A watt is a unit of power.  As has already been mentioned it is totally incorrect to say things like "Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)".  

It is like saying my 500 watt electric heater used 100 kilowatt hours of electricity last month (yeah that's thousands of watts).

2) There seems to be an assumption that Bitcoin mining should be more electrically efficient.  But the very process of Bitcoin mining is fundamentally about turning electricity into Bitcoins.   That is what Bitcoin mining is about.  Some Alt coins work differently but Bitcoin mining is about electrical consumption.

Electricity cost is likely to settle at about 40% of the cost of mining.  Currently about a 1.5 million dollars of Bitcoins are mined a day. So it would be logical that stability is reached when 500,000 dollars worth of electricity is used per day for Bitcoin mining.  At say 0.05 cents per KWh this means current mining would stabilize at about 400 Megawatts or 10 MWh per day.  So the estimate of 6 MWh above seems reasonable and is not unexpected.

Of course total mining electrical consumption will change next year after the bitcoins per mined block halves. Electrical consumption  will also rise and fall in proportion to the value of a Bitcoin. If transaction fees ever become significant they will also increase electrical consumption.

It is of interest that the amount of electrical power used does not depend on the actual miner hashing efficiency as any improvement is cancelled by a resulting difficulty change.  

3) The environment impact is not clearcut as much (most?) of the Bitcoin mining is done in areas with surplus hydro power, for example Western China or Washington state or Sweden.  Geothermal power is used in Iceland.  Hydro plants are often a long way from the users and have considerable surplus capacity when first built.  They like customers with a constant power draw who can located next to the generators.  Bitcoin farms just want large amounts of cheap reliable power and can easily relocate almost anywhere.

Just for comparison the 3 Gorges Dam in China has a power output of 22,600 Megawatts.  So the total world Bitcoin mining represents about 2% of the 3 Gorges Dam electrical capacity.   Or to use a US comparison, total world Bitcoin mining is equivalent to about 8% of the Washington state Grand Coulee dam capacity.

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December 28, 2015, 09:28:29 PM
 #15

.
Per hour: = 257.724 Mwh (That is over half the energy produced by the smallest nuclear power plant in the U.S.A)
Per day:  = 6,185.376 Mwh or 6.186 GWh (to put this into perspective Gigawatts is the unit of measurement they use for nuclear power plants)
Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)


.

I have a number of issues/comments with the above discussion.  

1) A GWh (Gigawatt hour) is a unit of Energy.  A watt is a unit of power.  As has already been mentioned it is totally incorrect to say things like "Per Month: = 185.58 GWh (yeah that's Gigawatts)".  

It is like saying my 500 watt electric heater used 100 kilowatt hours of electricity last month (yeah that's thousands of watts).

2) There seems to be an assumption that Bitcoin mining should be more electrically efficient.  But the very process of Bitcoin mining is fundamentally about turning electricity into Bitcoins.   That is what Bitcoin mining is about.  Some Alt coins work differently but Bitcoin mining is about electrical consumption.

Electricity cost is likely to settle at about 40% of the cost of mining.  Currently about a 1.5 million dollars of Bitcoins are mined a day. So it would be logical that stability is reached when 500,000 dollars worth of electricity is used per day for Bitcoin mining.  At say 0.05 cents per KWh this means current mining would stabilize at about 400 Megawatts or 10 MWh per day.  So the estimate of 6 MWh above seems reasonable and is not unexpected.

Of course total mining electrical consumption will change next year after the bitcoins per mined block halves. Electrical consumption  will also rise and fall in proportion to the value of a Bitcoin. If transaction fees ever become significant they will also increase electrical consumption.

It is of interest that the amount of electrical power used does not depend on the actual miner hashing efficiency as any improvement is cancelled by a resulting difficulty change.  

3) The environment impact is not clearcut as much (most?) of the Bitcoin mining is done in areas with surplus hydro power, for example Western China or Washington state or Sweden.  Geothermal power is used in Iceland.  Hydro plants are often a long way from the users and have considerable surplus capacity when first built.  They like customers with a constant power draw who can located next to the generators.  Bitcoin farms just want large amounts of cheap reliable power and can easily relocate almost anywhere.

Just for comparison the 3 Gorges Dam in China has a power output of 22,600 Megawatts.  So the total world Bitcoin mining represents about 2% of the 3 Gorges Dam electrical capacity.   Or to use a US comparison, total world Bitcoin mining is equivalent to about 8% of the Washington state Grand Coulee dam capacity.



I appreciate your contribution to the discussion, unfortunately i cannot reply to your bullet points without either A: sounding like i am calling you an idiot and a troll. or B: getting into a multi-page battle of semantics.

To be clear i am neither calling you an idiot or a troll in any fashion as i am sure you are neither, or maybe you are and that was your point. Either way I just cannot reply to what you wrote without it seeming like that is what i am doing. So respectfully i must myself opt not to reply directly to your issues or comments for want of being a civil grown ass man that does not need to behave in such fashion, and to settle the later, 90% of conversations involving bitcoin turn in to a battle of semantics and result in nothing more productive than littering the world wide web with more bytes of useless garbage that has to be stored on a disc drive somewhere. Needless to say, i will not contribute to semantically driven conversations or arguments.

My apologies for not directly addressing your issues. It is a no win situation for me if i would have even attempted.
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December 29, 2015, 12:33:30 AM
 #16

Yeah bitcoin mining is destroying the planet.  no doubt about it.  its what most bitcoin users want, no? not me, though, I hedge that by heating my garage with my miner, and all my electricity is produced with hydro-electric. 

Seems China is burning coal, which is bad for the planet as a whole...so just another good reason to point your miners elsewhere than f2pool or antpool

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December 29, 2015, 05:07:04 AM
 #17

Yeah bitcoin mining is destroying the planet.  no doubt about it.  its what most bitcoin users want, no? not me, though, I hedge that by heating my garage with my miner, and all my electricity is produced with hydro-electric. 

Seems China is burning coal, which is bad for the planet as a whole...so just another good reason to point your miners elsewhere than f2pool or antpool

Glad to hear your mined coins are green. I would be interested to see if there is a way to annotate in the block chain coins that are generated on green power.

Agreed about China, If I had not unplugged my little 10 TH/s farm a few months back i would for sure after thinking of it in that light point my miners to somewhere more green.

Would be great to see a "Green-Pool" open up somewhere for green miners mining on a green hosted pool, generating 0 carbon coins. That's something I could get behind, if I still mined I might even pay a % premium to the pool to further invest in ways to track true green coins through the block chain.
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December 29, 2015, 08:48:34 AM
 #18

For perspective - a SINGLE dam on the Columbia River (of the appx. 10 owned between Chelan, Douglass, and Grant counties) generates well over 2000 Megawatts of electricity.

257 Megawatts compared to human power consumption as a whole is trivially small - and SOME of that usage replaces "space heating" power/fuel usage for at least part of the year for most of us home miners and to some small degree for commmercial miners.


 I suspect most major farms are running "green" through power from various hydroelectric projects around the world - specifically including at least some and possibly ALL of the major Chinese farms.


 MOST major industrial powers burn a fair bit of coal for power generation, as hydro and wind are NOT PRACTICAL for many areas.


Quote

There seems to be an assumption that Bitcoin mining should be more electrically efficient.


 It's been moving that way for a long time now. Every new ASIC generation has been quite a bit more efficient than the generation before it.
 The down side is more folks have gotten involved, moving the target higher every time they add hashrate to the network....

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December 29, 2015, 01:32:17 PM
 #19

Yeah bitcoin mining is destroying the planet.  no doubt about it.  its what most bitcoin users want, no? not me, though, I hedge that by heating my garage with my miner, and all my electricity is produced with hydro-electric. 

Seems China is burning coal, which is bad for the planet as a whole...so just another good reason to point your miners elsewhere than f2pool or antpool

Glad to hear your mined coins are green. I would be interested to see if there is a way to annotate in the block chain coins that are generated on green power.

Agreed about China, If I had not unplugged my little 10 TH/s farm a few months back i would for sure after thinking of it in that light point my miners to somewhere more green.

Would be great to see a "Green-Pool" open up somewhere for green miners mining on a green hosted pool, generating 0 carbon coins. That's something I could get behind, if I still mined I might even pay a % premium to the pool to further invest in ways to track true green coins through the block chain.

Seriously, what? The things burning the electricity are the miners. A pool is simply some server running somewhere that probably uses some ridiculous fraction of the energy of the miners that submit work to the pool. All in all the server probably pulls less than 500 watts. A single new S7 is 1293 watts. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you are saying....

< Track your bitcoins! > < Track them again! > <<< [url=https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1qomqt/what_a_landmark_legal_case_from_mid1700s_scotland/] What is fungibility? >>> 46P88uZ4edEgsk7iKQUGu2FUDYcdHm2HtLFiGLp1inG4e4f9PTb4mbHWYWFZGYUeQidJ8hFym2WUmWc p34X8HHmFS2LXJkf <<< Free subdomains at moneroworld.com!! >>> <<< If you don't want to run your own node, point your wallet to node.moneroworld.com, and get connected to a random node! @@@@ FUCK ALL THE PROFITEERS! PROOF OF WORK OR ITS A SCAM !!! @@@@
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December 29, 2015, 01:50:54 PM
 #20

Yeah bitcoin mining is destroying the planet.  no doubt about it.  its what most bitcoin users want, no? not me, though, I hedge that by heating my garage with my miner, and all my electricity is produced with hydro-electric. 

Seems China is burning coal, which is bad for the planet as a whole...so just another good reason to point your miners elsewhere than f2pool or antpool

Glad to hear your mined coins are green. I would be interested to see if there is a way to annotate in the block chain coins that are generated on green power.

Agreed about China, If I had not unplugged my little 10 TH/s farm a few months back i would for sure after thinking of it in that light point my miners to somewhere more green.

Would be great to see a "Green-Pool" open up somewhere for green miners mining on a green hosted pool, generating 0 carbon coins. That's something I could get behind, if I still mined I might even pay a % premium to the pool to further invest in ways to track true green coins through the block chain.

Seriously, what? The things burning the electricity are the miners. A pool is simply some server running somewhere that probably uses some ridiculous fraction of the energy of the miners that submit work to the pool. All in all the server probably pulls less than 500 watts. A single new S7 is 1293 watts. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you are saying....

You're misunderstanding. He's referring not only to green servers running a mining pool software, but also green miners' green mining gear.

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