There is this widespread notion that Bitcoin mining is detrimental to the environment, because of all the electricity it consumes. At a quick superficial glance, it seems logical. But in reality, it is not exactly the case.
Currently, China accounts for about 71% of the mining hash power in the world. The mining farms are based in Western China. But why there?
Hydro power plants have been created in the past for the production of aluminium. Electricity is 60% of the cost to aluminium production through smelting. The aluminium market is oversaturated for years now and China, being a top producer, has cut the production. So they have a huge surplus of hydro energy that is not utilized. For simplicity, imagine a hydro power plant in the fields, surrounded by nothing else. And hydro energy is clean energy. It doesn’t kill trees.
However, the technological infrastructure for transporting the energy to regions that actually need it, is lacking. This overcapacity of energy can’t just be sent to China’s bustling urban centers. Actually it can, but electricity will have to travel long distances, which equals huge losses. Therefore, it would be more economical for a power consumer to be closer to the source of the power. This is where the mining farms and their warehouses have been built. Right next to the close-to-useless hydro power plants. So the majority of miners are using failed energy projects and not investing in new ones.
In order to mine Bitcoin, all you need is mining hardware, internet connection and a simple software and now the unutilized energy is used towards creating a decentralized blockchain system. Unused clean hydro energy is entering the global economy. This is the real mining! At the core of it, we have a Chinese river allowing a rural farmer in Africa get paid for the cotton he produces through the Bitcoin network. The Chinese rivers help a Filipino immigrant in USA to send his payroll to his relatives in the Philippines for cents of a dollar, rather than for a 40% commission fee via Western Union.
Well, gold diggers and oil rigs are also making tons of money. Is it fair? Traditionally, the resource mining business has always been one of the most lucrative. It is at the top of the supply chain. In order for us to go to a gas station and fuel our car tank, someone had to drill that oil first. Gas has value for us as end users. We travel faster than on horses. In order for the gas station to make profit on retail prices, they need to buy that gas from someone first and so on. There is value for everyone in the chain, provided that the product or resource is actually needed.
Unutilized clean energy coming from rivers that doesn’t pollute the air on one hand. And the maintaining of a global decentralized payment system on the other.
So the real question is: “Is a decentralized, open, alternative, state-free monetary system needed?” For the average citizen in a developed country, it may still not be. But for billions underbanked that is life-changing.
A system that allows for 24/7 payments with no borders and close to zero fees. An alternative system to fiat money, that allows people in countries like Venezuela to protect their money and assets in rough times. A system that provides banking for billions in regions where there is no banks.
Unutilized clean hydro energy is being transformed into a global, borderless, open, decentralized, alternative financial system. The air is not being polluted. But the annual profits of banks are! And they will keep pondering how detrimental Bitcoin mining for humanity is. Is this the truth? Decide for yourself.
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Either way, thank you for your time!
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