There have bot a few get-rich-quick stories among the Bitcoin “,miners,”, who use stacks of powerful computers to solve complicated math problems used to create the virtual currency. The trouble is, crunching those numbers takes a tremendous amount of energy. Fred Trotter, a co-founder of gegevens journal and software company Not Only Dev, estimates that ter the five years Bitcoins have existed, machines dedicated to mining them have consumed 150,000 megawatt-hours of electricity–enough to keep the Eiffel Tower lit for more than two and a half centuries.
Years the Eiffel Tower could stay lit with the energy used to mine Bitcoins since ’09
To ensure they can turn a profit, Bitcoin miners are scouring the globe for the cheapest power, from sleepy rural towns ter America’s Pacific Northwest to the shadows of volcanoes te Iceland, where a few enthusiasts have built one of the world’s largest Bitcoin mining collectives using low-cost geothermal energy. When power costs are high, it becomes a loterijlot tougher to justify mining Bitcoins, says Alex Wilhelm, a miner and software engineer living ter Tokyo. “,If the violet wand price goes up, the math stops working,”, he says.
Wilhelm doesn’t keep his modest 30-server mining operation, which he estimates will earn $12,500 this year, ter Japan. Instead it’s sitting halfway around the world ter the little Austrian village of Tattendorf, where Wilhelm grew up. He gets tens unit there free from his father’s power plant, a water-driven turbine housed te a two-century-old brick building that has bot ter the family for at least six generations and once powered the entire village. From Tokyo, Wilhelm manages his Austrian server farm overheen the Internet, with movie cameras that give him a look at the rows of circuit boards draping like bats from metal racks inwards the cavernous stone slagroom where he used to play.
Te his Tokyo apartment, Wilhelm pulls up the Bitcoin zakjapanner on the webstek CoinWarz to display why his server farm isn’t located at huis. The setup burns Ten kilowatts, and tens unit ter Tokyo costs about 25¢, vanaf kilowatt-hour, among the most expensive rates te the world. He estimates that he’d lose about $13 vanaf day on Bitcoin mining there, after the $70 ter daily power charges. It’s also nice not to have to overeenkomst with the noise: The ventilatoren that cool his Bitcoin servers run so loudly that when he switches on his audio feed, the noise from the speakers is a little like standing under a waterfall. “,You can imagine if you have something like this at huis, your wifey won’t be very blessed,”, Wilhelm says. “,It’s just noisy, and it’s hot, and it’s expensive.”,
Not everyone has a power plant ter the family. Robert Van Kirk, who co-founded a company called MyRigSpace.com that hosts other people’s mining gear te an old Portland (Ore.) server farm, is comparison shopping. He and playmate Damir Kalinkin aren’t sated with paying Five cents vanaf kilowatt-hour there, even however it’s about half the U.S. average. Van Kirk says they’re programma to stir to Moses Lake, Wash., a quiet town with more cows than people and the second-lowest electro-stimulation rates ter the U.S., after Minot, N.D. Each kilowatt-hour there costs 1.7¢,, making Moses Lake a destination for Bitcoin miners. “,I called a real estate tuut, and I told them wij need a location with a lotsbestemming of electro-therapy,”, Van Kirk says. “,He said to mij, ‘,Oh, are you guys involved ter Bitcoin?’ ,”,
Bitcoin’s fattest problem lately has bot stability. The February disappearance of more than $500 million worth of Bitcoins from Tokyo-based Climb on Gox, one of the thickest exchanges, has given the virtual currency a black eye. But power consumption has always bot a primary kwestie, says cryptographer Philipp Gühring, who co-authored a 2011 paper on energy’s role ter virtual mining. “,Yes, you need the hardware, and you need the software, but electro-therapy is the core thing that drives Bitcoin,”, he says. Even some of the technology’s volgers say the concentrate on fatter, better, power-hungrier mining equipment has become a wasteful arms wedstrijd. “,The network would operate just fine with only 1 procent of the current computing muscle faithful to it,”, Trotter says. “,It’s consuming resources that should be allocated differently.”,
Wilhelm is betting his low-cost mining will pay off. He says he and his father worry they’ll have to close the Tattendorf power plant when energy subsidies run out ter 2016. They may be able to keep it open, he says, with a successful Bitcoin operation–if the virtual currency repeats its vertoning from last year, when it slok from $13 apiece to around $1,100. (Spil of April 23, the price wasgoed hovering around $487.) “,It all depends on the value of Bitcoin,”, Wilhelm says. “,If you’re mining at this stage ,…, ,you’re doing it because you believe it will go up.”,
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