Best Bitcoin Exchange for Ireland
Expensive currency: Bitcoins are real energy guzzlers, because the virtual currency requires enormous computing power. A Dutch researcher has now calculated for the first time how much electricity the Bitcoin network consumes worldwide. The result: the energy requirement is already almost equal to Ireland’s annual electricity consumption. By the end of 2018, Bitcoins could even eat up half a percent of the entire global electricity demand.
The Bitcoin is booming
This virtual currency is intended to make transactions secure and reliable even without banks or the state and has rapidly gained in value, especially in recent months. But the system has a catch: the production of Bitcoins, the so-called “mining”, and the maintenance of the Bitcoin network require an enormous computing effort – and that costs a corresponding amount of electricity.
Computing power for the blockchain
The reason for this effort: the virtual currency is only safe from manipulation and counterfeiting because all transactions are part of a constantly growing chain of data. This blockchain contains all payment transactions that have ever been made and is simultaneously checked and supplemented by thousands of computers. They compete for the first to decrypt the code for the next block of transactions – because there are 12.5 bitcoins for that.
The problem is that the computing processes for the entire Bitcoin system are extremely complex – and the more computing power a participant can muster, the greater his chance of success. “This is a process that makes Bitcoins extremely energy-hungry,” explains Alex de Vries, a Dutch expert on crypto currencies. According to his estimates, trillions of so-called hashing operations occur for each of the approximately 200,000 daily transactions in the network.
Secrecy at Bitcoin Miners
De Vries has now calculated – or at least estimated as accurately as possible – how much energy the Bitcoin network consumes due to this enormous computing power. The problem is that the big players in so-called Bitcoin mining are keeping a low profile. They don’t reveal what computing power they have in their systems equipped with special hardware and how much electricity they consume.
De Vries therefore used indirect indicators for his estimates, including the sales data of one of the most important hardware suppliers for Bitcoin Miners, Bitmain, as well as the consumption data of this hardware and its processors. “The publicly published performance data of Bitcoin machines is 0.098 Joule per Gigahash,” says de Vries.
As much power as all of Ireland
The result: The Bitcoin system currently consumes at least 2.55 gigawatts per year – almost as much as the annual electricity consumption of Ireland. This is solely the result of the number of hashing operations that currently take place per second in the Bitcoin network, reports de Vries. Every single Bitcoin transaction consumes as much electricity as an average Dutch household does in a whole month.
But it won’t stay that way: According to de Vries, sales of special hardware indicate that Bitcoin mining will be further expanded. According to his calculations, electricity consumption for Bitcoins could even rise to 7.7 gigawatts by the end of 2018. That would be almost a tripling compared to today and would correspond to half a percent of global annual electricity consumption.
Bitcoin has a huge problem
“Half a percent of the world’s electricity consumption is quite shocking even for me,” says de Vries. If the price for Bitcoins rises as much as some experts are already predicting, even this figure could be exceeded. De Vries then doesn’t rule out that the Bitcoin system could one day account for as much as five percent of the world’s electricity consumption.
“Bitcoin has thereby a giant problem – and it becomes in racing speed ever larger , says de Vries. Because this development means that the Bitcoin network will eventually reach a point where Bitcoin mining is simply no longer worthwhile. The costs for electricity and hardware will then clearly exceed the value of the Bitcoin.
Ireland and Brexit
- The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of the central problems of the Brexit negotiations.
- Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, insists that after the Brexit, he will not introduce physical controls at the border.
- This makes it even more difficult for British Prime Minister May to find support for a deal.
There are many people in Britain who think Brexit is a terrible idea. And there are many who think the planned EU withdrawal is a wonderful idea. In the Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, the small neighbouring country, only very few people are able to take a positive view of Brexit. No other remaining EU member has more to lose from the Kingdom’s withdrawal. Besides the USA, Great Britain is the Irish people’s most important trading partner. In addition, the only land border of the United Kingdom is on the Irish island.
The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is 499 kilometres long. It has 208 crossings – along the motorway, village roads and country lanes. At least. So far it is almost invisible. But after 29 March it marks the external border of the EU. And if the British leave without an agreement, imports into the European Union would have to be controlled at this external border – just like at the border between the Baltic states and Russia, for example.
Ireland insists that the border to the north remains invisible
The fact that the British Parliament rejected the Brexit Treaty by a large majority increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit. If the British leave the Union without a valid agreement, the agreed transition period will be over, during which almost nothing will change for citizens and businesses. Instead, business would suddenly be subject to the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). And they provide for customs duties – of ten percent on cars or 35 percent on dairy products – as well as customs controls.
After the bitter defeat, the British Prime Minister at least survives the vote of no confidence in parliament. Brussels, on the other hand, continues to look at London at a loss. By Björn Finke, London, and Alexander Mühlauer, Brussels
Nevertheless, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is persistent in announcing that there will be no controls between his state and Northern Ireland under any circumstances. The Taoiseach – as his post is called in Irish – claims to have the backing of the EU: Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and heads of state and government “have said on several occasions that they will not require us to set up physical infrastructure and start customs controls at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland,” says the conservative politician. Physical infrastructure means customs houses and parking lots to randomly check truck loads.
Advocates of Brexit sense an opportunity
Such announcements serve to reassure the Irish and secure the survival of Varadkar’s minority government in Dublin. But at the same time the quotations of Brexit enthusiasts in Britain serve as ammunition. Prime Minister Theresa May, her ministers and companies in the Kingdom are strongly warning against resignation without a treaty. They draw gloomy scenarios: The ports on the mainland and in Great Britain are not prepared for customs controls. Chaos and congestion threatened. And a visible border on the Irish island could once again trigger tensions between pro-British Protestants and those Catholics who call for unification with the Republic of Ireland in the former troubled province of Northern Ireland. Such reminders should convince parliamentarians in London to still support the Brexit Treaty.
Brexit fans who reject the agreement are therefore eager to hear Varadkar’s statements – as apparent proof that there will be no controls and that the government is running a fear campaign. The announcements from Dublin show that all supposed “problems are perfectly solvable”, says Steve Baker, a conservative MEP who resigned as Secretary of State in the Brexit Ministry in protest against May’s course.
The theses of Jean-Marc Puissesseau, the head of the port in Calais, France, are also of little help to May. He now announced that his port was well prepared for the Brexit, whether with or without an agreement. There won’t be any chaos or permanent congestion. Logistics associations and the management of the port of Dover on the other side of the English Channel contradict this assessment. The Brexit enthusiasts in parliament are nevertheless delighted with Monsieur Puissesseau’s confidence.