The real question is if bitcoin is more or less energy efficient than traditional banking and wealth distribution systems. It’s a difficult comparison; there are many expensive items bitcoin doesn’t need, such as vaults, brokers, armed guards, information technology and security experts, lawyers, etc…

It might be noteworthy that there are currently 1,857 crypto currencies in use, of which Bitcoin is but one. Bitcoin is also a bit of an outlier in many respects including the massive amounts of energy required for mining it.

https://www.investing.com/crypto/currencies
All Cryptocurrencies
Number of Currencies: 1,857 Total Market Cap: $368,689,314,947 Vol (24H): $15,285,529,083

Cryptocurrencies are another massively disruptive technology. They are a true peer to peer form of exchange of value and I agree that it is far too soon for any of us to really grasp the repercussions of how it will affect global energy use. I suspect that what is happening in Africa with regards cellphone banking apps when cross pollinated with various cryptocurrencies will make business transactions much more energy efficient in the long term than say back when millions of people had to physically go to a bank to get money, deposit a check, apply for a loan etc… Not to mention that many millions of people could not even get access to any of these services because their incomes were too low to qualify.

I can see this facilitating the penetration of alternative energy in very low income areas of the world.

http://www.wri.org/blog/2017/02/pay-you-go-solar-could-electrify-rural-africa

“Pay-As-You-Go” Solar Could Electrify Rural Africa

New Mobile and Solar Technology Makes Access to Basic Electricity Possible
In a “pay-as-you-go” (PAYG) business model, a company essentially rents consumers a solar home system that comes with a battery, a charge controller, a solar panel, LED bulbs and a mobile charger. Basic systems have enough power to charge phones and lights, and larger ones could power small appliances like radios or TVs. Consumers use basic mobile phones – widespread in East Africa – to make payments on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Through this model, companies can minimize the cost of collections by automating the receipt of payments, while remote rural customers get immediate access to basic electricity without having to take out a loan. A grid expansion project, while it may provide power to bigger appliances, can take years and significant investment to reach a rural or low-income community.

https://cleantechnica.com/2017/06/29/solarcoin-cryptocurrency-earned-generating-solar-electricity/

SolarCoin Is A Cryptocurrency Earned By Generating Solar Electricity

Solar electricity production + blockchain = a currency based on sunshine

Just as cryptocurrency has become a disruptive technology, so has renewable energy, and although those two distinct sectors haven’t really come into their own just yet, an innovative solar incentive program is incorporating both solar electricity production and the blockchain, with the intent of boosting and supporting one with the other.

Instead of a digitally “mined” product, this cryptocurrency’s proof of work happens in the physical world, and those who have photovoltaic arrays can earn SolarCoin just for generating solar electricity. It’s essentially a global solar rewards program, and is designed to help incentivize more solar electricity production, while also serving as a lower-carbon cryptocurrency than Bitcoin and similar alternative currencies.

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