Bitcoin Going From Boiling the Oceans to Draining Them, According to Critic

A data scientist for the Dutch National Bank, Alex De Vries, claims every bitcoin transaction uses enough water to fill a swimming pool.

AccessTimeIconNov 30, 2023 at 8:03 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:22 p.m. UTC
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Longtime Bitcoin (BTC) critic Alex De Vries said each transaction on the Bitcoin network uses over 16,000 liters of water, enough to fill a small swimming pool.

De Vries yesterday published a research paper with his findings, arguing that a combination of miner cooling systems and the water consumption for miner energy sources are behind the massive usage.

The findings echo De Vries' previous criticisms of Bitcoin, which centered on the electricity usage of bitcoin mining. His tech research site, Digiconomist, for example, keeps a log of the footprint of each bitcoin transaction, putting it on par with "808,554 Visa transactions or 60,802 hours of watching YouTube."

The validity of calculating the energy cost per bitcoin transaction has, however, been criticized as having little relevance without further context. Cambridge University's Center for Alternative Finance, for instance, pointed out that "transaction throughput is independent of the network’s electricity consumption. Adding more mining equipment and thus increasing electricity consumption will have no impact on the number of processed transactions."

Digiconomist's name was also put to a 2017 prediction that Bitcoin would match the entire world's entire power consumption by 2020, an estimate which fell into a similar trap of predictions from the early 1990s about internet traffic and electricity use.

De Vries' latest offering to the Bitcoin discourse was met with criticism by Daniel Batten, founder of CH4-Capital, a startup that aims to remove methane from the atmosphere, a task for which he believes bitcoin mining can serve a purpose.

"De Vries has a history of making predictions which [have] proven wildly inaccurate," Batten posted on X (formerly Twitter).

"Rather than acknowledge error and move on, De Vries has simply pivoted his attack into other areas," Batten continued. "Now that it is clear Bitcoin's major energy source is not coal (as De Vries had falsely claimed) but hydro, Bitcoin is suddenly bad for using too much water."


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Jamie Crawley

Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.

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