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Author Topic: how much does it cost to "produce" 1 BTC currently? and how much power is used?  (Read 4475 times)
dio
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May 16, 2011, 10:54:44 AM
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hi folks, i am still relatively new to bitcoin and trying to better figure it out. one of the things i don't understand yet is why the mining difficulty is raised so much that one seems to need super duper high end gears and GPUs to mine coins these days.

i understand that exact answers may not be possible, can can any of you give me an estimate of how much power is currently used to generate 1 BTC and how much it costs overall (including cost/depreciation of the rig)?
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Sukrim
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May 16, 2011, 11:13:17 AM
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hi folks, i am still relatively new to bitcoin and trying to better figure it out. one of the things i don't understand yet is why the mining difficulty is raised so much that one seems to need super duper high end gears and GPUs to mine coins these days.

i understand that exact answers may not be possible, can can any of you give me an estimate of how much power is currently used to generate 1 BTC and how much it costs overall (including cost/depreciation of the rig)?

Currently you need ~160MHashes/s to generate 1 BTC on average per day. Power draw is somewhere between 1-1.5 W/MHash/s, so ~4-6 kW/day can be expected (a minig rig that small would have a bit more of overhead from other components, so I'll use the 6 kW/day further on)

Depending on your electricity costs you can roughly estimate a bitcoin currently costs between ~.50 USD and ~1 EUR in electricity to be minted. This is with GPUs though, that have a good Watts/MHash/s rate. With CPUs this would be a very different thing.

Also, as difficulty increases, you can use the increases easily in this calculation: Difficulty increases by 50% --> BTC minting costs 50% more.


Depreciation is hard to guess, as I'm not 100% sure how long a mining rig should depreciate (5 years? 2 years? 3 months?), and many people use their GPU for other things than mining too, so do your own maths.

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May 16, 2011, 12:47:24 PM
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Currently you need ~160MHashes/s to generate 1 BTC on average per day. Power draw is somewhere between 1-1.5 W/MHash/s, so ~4-6 kW/day can be expected (a minig rig that small would have a bit more of overhead from other components, so I'll use the 6 kW/day further on)


hmm so basically for every BTC 144 pounds of carbon dioxide are created (1kwH creates about a pound on average)?! why is it necessary to waste so much energy and create such a huge carbon footprint?
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May 16, 2011, 12:53:04 PM
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Do you know how much carbon dioxide is produces by printing paper currency and how many trees have to be cut?
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May 16, 2011, 01:11:03 PM
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Currently you need ~160MHashes/s to generate 1 BTC on average per day. Power draw is somewhere between 1-1.5 W/MHash/s, so ~4-6 kW/day can be expected (a minig rig that small would have a bit more of overhead from other components, so I'll use the 6 kW/day further on)


hmm so basically for every BTC 144 pounds of carbon dioxide are created (1kwH creates about a pound on average)?! why is it necessary to waste so much energy and create such a huge carbon footprint?

I think Sukrim meant 6 kWH/day, so it's not 6 * 24 = 144, it's 6 * 1.
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May 16, 2011, 01:26:46 PM
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hmm so basically for every BTC 144 pounds of carbon dioxide are created (1kwH creates about a pound on average)?! why is it necessary to waste so much energy and create such a huge carbon footprint?

It's not a waste. It's a price for having decentralized cryptocurrency. Also, I don't get why a huge carbon dioxide footprint would be bad. Plants require carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis. More CO2 - more plants growth. Are you against nature?

My Bitcoin address: 1DjTsAYP3xR4ymcTUKNuFa5aHt42q2VgSg
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May 16, 2011, 01:33:49 PM
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You're  failing to take into account the electricity used by the people who did not generate a block. Maybe a better calculation would be 10minutes * power consumption of the whole bitcoin network / 50BTC = energy consumption for the creation of one bitcoin.

But this talk of energy needed for the creation of bitcoins is pretty irrelevant, considering that this process also handles all the transactions. So it would probably be more intelligent to compare the power usage of bitcoins to the total power usage of the current financial network, including the energy required to move coins and bills around, to power bank servers, to produce coins and bills, and so on.
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May 16, 2011, 11:43:04 PM
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You're failing to take into account the electricity used by the people who did not generate a block.
No, they didn't. Most of the time nobody generates a block, so it's an average.
BitLex
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May 17, 2011, 12:10:27 AM
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hmm so basically for every BTC 144 pounds of carbon dioxide are created (1kwH creates about a pound on average)?!
every BTC generated by my mining-rigs is 100% carbon dioxide neutral, no matter how many kWh they consume.
don't fire up your rigs (or anything else) with dirty energy, if you want a greener world. Wink

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May 17, 2011, 01:36:18 AM
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my BTC are at least 50% green, powered via hydro and wind.  Most of the remainder is coal, with some natural gas during summer peaks.
dio
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May 17, 2011, 09:51:19 AM
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Do you know how much carbon dioxide is produces by printing paper currency and how many trees have to be cut?

why do you compare to paper currency?! aren't we talking digital currency here? of course the carbon footprint of paper currency is terrible, but why on earth would we repeat the same mistakes with digital currency?

I think Sukrim meant 6 kWH/day, so it's not 6 * 24 = 144, it's 6 * 1.

that's not what he wrote, can someone confirm this?

It's not a waste. It's a price for having decentralized cryptocurrency. Also, I don't get why a huge carbon dioxide footprint would be bad. Plants require carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis. More CO2 - more plants growth. Are you against nature?

i do think it's a waste, there MUST be more (energy-)efficient ways of doing this. dude please, do some reading on CO2 imbalance on this planet...

You're  failing to take into account the electricity used by the people who did not generate a block. Maybe a better calculation would be 10minutes * power consumption of the whole bitcoin network / 50BTC = energy consumption for the creation of one bitcoin.

But this talk of energy needed for the creation of bitcoins is pretty irrelevant, considering that this process also handles all the transactions. So it would probably be more intelligent to compare the power usage of bitcoins to the total power usage of the current financial network, including the energy required to move coins and bills around, to power bank servers, to produce coins and bills, and so on.

hmmm can you give me an idea of the "power consumption of the whole bitcoin network"??

and again, yes the current financial system creates a terrible carbon footprint, but why repeat the same mistakes??!! it's the wrong comparison imho

every BTC generated by my mining-rigs is 100% carbon dioxide neutral, no matter how many kWh they consume.
don't fire up your rigs (or anything else) with dirty energy, if you want a greener world. Wink

great stuff!! but i fear you are one of only a few in the bitcoin network?


guys, i admire your passion and enthusiasm on bitcoin. we all know that fiat currencies are not sustainable (for several reasons) but in my simple mind any new digital currency that is such a HUGE resource hog won't be sustainable either in the long run. feel free to persuade me that i'm wrong Smiley
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May 17, 2011, 10:42:58 AM
 #12

I think Sukrim meant 6 kWH/day, so it's not 6 * 24 = 144, it's 6 * 1.

that's not what he wrote, can someone confirm this?

You need ~160W (calculating with 1W per MHash/s) to mine a bitcoin in a day currently. If you let a GPU that consumes 160W/h and calculates 160 MHashes/s run for a day, in theory you have generated a BTC.

160W/h *24h = 3870W/day --> 3,87 kW/day

Also CO2 is generally (mis?)used as an "equivalent" factor for greenhouse gases. Read a bit on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global-warming_potential and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co2e before you start acting as if every greenhouse gas emission is CO2...

hmmm can you give me an idea of the "power consumption of the whole bitcoin network"??
Easily, if you take my assumption of 1 MHash/s ~ 1W/h

The current network speed is about 2000 Gigahashes/s straight.
1 Gigahash/s ~ 1 kW
1 Gigahash/s for a day ~ 24 kW
2000 Gigahash/s ~ 2000 kW (or 2 MW - something that would not even remotely warrant even building a dedicated plant - for all bitcoin mining rigs worldwide!)
2000 Gigahash/s for a day ~48000kW

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dio
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May 17, 2011, 10:57:58 AM
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You need ~160W (calculating with 1W per MHash/s) to mine a bitcoin in a day currently. If you let a GPU that consumes 160W/h and calculates 160 MHashes/s run for a day, in theory you have generated a BTC.

160W/h *24h = 3870W/day --> 3,87 kW/day

ok, thanks!

Also CO2 is generally (mis?)used as an "equivalent" factor for greenhouse gases. Read a bit on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global-warming_potential and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Co2e before you start acting as if every greenhouse gas emission is CO2...

agreed, i didn't mean to imply that co2 is equivalent to all greenhouse gases. i simplified and mentioned only co2 because i didn't wanna complicate the discussion on that side.
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May 17, 2011, 11:15:50 AM
 #14

Watts are a unit of power, which is the rate of consumption of energy. Energy is measured in either kilowatt-hours (one kW-h is 1000 watts being consumed for an hour), or Joules (one Joule is one watt being consumed for one second, so one kW-h is 3600000 Joules).

You need ~160W (calculating with 1W per MHash/s) to mine a bitcoin in a day

If 160 Watts will (on average) generate one bitcoin each 24 hours, then the creation of each bitcoin uses 3.84 kW-h (0.16 * 24) or 13.824 Megajoules. That's about a dollar's worth of electricity where I live.

The target is for 7200 new bitcoins to be mined each day, which would require 27.648 MW-h (Megawatt-hours) or 99532.8 Megajoules (which is approximately 100 Gigajoules).

At the target of 7200 coins per day, the power consumption of the Bitcoin network would therefore be 1.152 Megawatts (i.e. 7200 times 160 watts).

At the moment the Bitcoin network is running about 60% above the target generation rate, so the total power consumption would be proportionally higher.
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May 17, 2011, 11:37:30 AM
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Do you know how much carbon dioxide is produces by printing paper currency and how many trees have to be cut?

in my simple mind any new digital currency that is such a HUGE resource hog won't be sustainable either in the long run. feel free to persuade me that i'm wrong

one thing that does not affect mystical carbon footprint is sitting still without breathing (well, at least until you start to decompose) why not to try that instead of bitcoins?
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May 17, 2011, 12:03:48 PM
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If 160 Watts will (on average) generate one bitcoin each 24 hours, then the creation of each bitcoin uses 3.84 kW-h (0.16 * 24) or 13.824 Megajoules. That's about a dollar's worth of electricity where I live.

The target is for 7200 new bitcoins to be mined each day, which would require 27.648 MW-h (Megawatt-hours) or 99532.8 Megajoules (which is approximately 100 Gigajoules).

At the target of 7200 coins per day, the power consumption of the Bitcoin network would therefore be 1.152 Megawatts (i.e. 7200 times 160 watts).

At the moment the Bitcoin network is running about 60% above the target generation rate, so the total power consumption would be proportionally higher.

thanks! so one could assume that at 160% it consumes about 1.85 Megawatts continuously?
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May 17, 2011, 12:34:25 PM
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i do think it's a waste, there MUST be more (energy-)efficient ways of doing this.

You're more than welcome to propose a better system if you think of one. Otherwise, bitcoin is already much better than the current system, so ...
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May 17, 2011, 12:40:14 PM
 #18

thanks! so one could assume that at 160% it consumes about 1.85 Megawatts continuously?

considering that there is still plenty of cpu and nvidia miners it is probably significantly more, plus, that changes every 10 days
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May 17, 2011, 02:49:35 PM
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thanks! so one could assume that at 160% it consumes about 1.85 Megawatts continuously?
If you continue the assumption that 1W ~ 1MH/s then you just need to look at the current hash rate of the network...
 Roll Eyes

Maybe calculate with 1,5W on average though, as nVidia/CPU miners are the big unknown part here. This would lead to ~3 Megawatts used by bitcoin atm. 1 single offshore-wind turbine can create 5 MW as a comparison.

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May 18, 2011, 11:34:55 AM
 #20

considering that there is still plenty of cpu and nvidia miners it is probably significantly more, plus, that changes every 10 days

fair enough, agreed Smiley thx guys i now have a much better idea of the cost and power consumption
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