Oct 01, · Bitcoin mining is the process of creating new bitcoin by solving a computational puzzle. Bitcoin mining is necessary to maintain the ledger of transactions upon which bitcoin is . Key Learnings: Bitcoin is secured by miners that receive a reward for their work, and this episode explains the dynamic nature of Bitcoin mining and covers a bit about the economics at play. The marginal cost of gold mining tends to stay near the price of gold. Gold mining is a waste, but that waste is far less than the utility of having gold available as a medium of exchange. I think the case will be the same for Bitcoin. The utility of the exchanges made possible by Bitcoin .
Bitcoin mining economicsBitcoin Mining Can Be Profitable, If You Generate The Power
These fees ensure that miners still have the incentive to mine and keep the network going. The idea is that competition for these fees will cause them to remain low after halvings are finished.
These halvings reduce the rate at which new coins are created and, thus, lower the available supply. This can cause some implications for investors, as other assets with low supply—like gold—can have high demand and push prices higher. At this rate of halving, the total number of bitcoin in circulation will reach a limit of 21 million, making the currency entirely finite and potentially more valuable over time.
In order for bitcoin miners to actually earn bitcoin from verifying transactions, two things have to occur. First, they must verify one megabyte MB worth of transactions, which can theoretically be as small as one transaction but are more often several thousand, depending on how much data each transaction stores. Second, in order to add a block of transactions to the blockchain, miners must solve a complex computational math problem, also called a "proof of work.
In other words, it's a gamble. The difficulty level of the most recent block as of August is more than 16 trillion. That is, the chance of a computer producing a hash below the target is 1 in 16 trillion.
To put that in perspective, you are about 44, times more likely to win the Powerball jackpot with a single lottery ticket than you are to pick the correct hash on a single try. Fortunately, mining computer systems spit out many hash possibilities.
Nonetheless, mining for bitcoin requires massive amounts of energy and sophisticated computing operations. The difficulty level is adjusted every blocks, or roughly every 2 weeks, with the goal of keeping rates of mining constant. The opposite is also true. If computational power is taken off of the network, the difficulty adjusts downward to make mining easier.
Say I tell three friends that I'm thinking of a number between 1 and , and I write that number on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. My friends don't have to guess the exact number, they just have to be the first person to guess any number that is less than or equal to the number I am thinking of. And there is no limit to how many guesses they get.
Let's say I'm thinking of the number There is no 'extra credit' for Friend B, even though B's answer was closer to the target answer of Now imagine that I pose the 'guess what number I'm thinking of' question, but I'm not asking just three friends, and I'm not thinking of a number between 1 and Rather, I'm asking millions of would-be miners and I'm thinking of a digit hexadecimal number.
Now you see that it's going to be extremely hard to guess the right answer. Not only do bitcoin miners have to come up with the right hash, but they also have to be the first to do it. Because bitcoin mining is essentially guesswork, arriving at the right answer before another miner has almost everything to do with how fast your computer can produce hashes. Just a decade ago, bitcoin mining could be performed competitively on normal desktop computers.
Over time, however, miners realized that graphics cards commonly used for video games were more effective and they began to dominate the game. In , bitcoin miners started to use computers designed specifically for mining cryptocurrency as efficiently as possible, called Application-Specific Integrated Circuits ASIC.
These can run from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands but their efficiency in mining Bitcoin is superior. Today, bitcoin mining is so competitive that it can only be done profitably with the most up-to-date ASICs. Even with the newest unit at your disposal, one computer is rarely enough to compete with what miners call "mining pools. A mining pool is a group of miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin between participants.
A disproportionately large number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners. Mining pools and companies have represented large percentages of bitcoin's computing power. Consumers tend to trust printed currencies. In addition to a host of other responsibilities, the Federal Reserve regulates the production of new money, and the federal government prosecutes the use of counterfeit currency. Even digital payments using the U. When you make an online purchase using your debit or credit card, for example, that transaction is processed by a payment processing company such as Mastercard or Visa.
In addition to recording your transaction history, those companies verify that transactions are not fraudulent, which is one reason your debit or credit card may be suspended while traveling. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is not regulated by a central authority. Nodes store information about prior transactions and help to verify their authenticity.
Unlike those central authorities, however, bitcoin nodes are spread out across the world and record transaction data in a public list that can be accessed by anyone.
Between 1 in 16 trillion odds, scaling difficulty levels, and the massive network of users verifying transactions, one block of transactions is verified roughly every 10 minutes.
The bitcoin network is currently processing just under four transactions per second as of August , with transactions being logged in the blockchain every 10 minutes. At that point, waiting times for transactions will begin and continue to get longer, unless a change is made to the bitcoin protocol.
There have been two major solutions proposed to address the scaling problem. Developers have suggested either 1 creating a secondary "off-chain" layer to Bitcoin that would allow for faster transactions that can be verified by the blockchain later, or 2 increasing the number of transactions that each block can store. With less data to verify per block, the Solution 1 would make transactions faster and cheaper for miners.
Solution 2 would deal with scaling by allowing for more information to be processed every 10 minutes by increasing block size. The program that miners voted to add to the bitcoin protocol is called a segregated witness , or SegWit. Less than a month later in August , a group of miners and developers initiated a hard fork , leaving the bitcoin network to create a new currency using the same codebase as bitcoin.
The company has been in business since but, in the last decade, suffered against cheaper power sources. The facility was mothballed in March Competition from cheaper shale natural gas supplies and coal exports from China put the old company into economic distress. Atlas Holdings bought the plant in and converted it to natural gas in National Grid is the fifth largest distributor of natural gas in the United States.
Atlas, which buys and transforms distressed industrial companies, helped turn the company into a more efficient energy model. But profits were always tight. This was a unique idea in the United States. Rainey says, "Cryptocurrency mining was an idea that evolved following discussions with our Board and leadership team, as we explored the best way to utilize the unique assets we have at the facility.
Our Board approved a plan to pursue Bitcoin mining. Dale Irwin said, "We started with a couple of S9's and some GPU rigs in early to familiarize ourselves with the economics of the machines and learn how to operate and run them. We turned that into a small test pilot of several hundred machines from many different manufacturers in May of After completion and analysis of the test pilot, we built the current data center within four months, starting our larger-scale mining operation in January Greenidge is using over 20 megawatts MW of power to mine Bitcoin, which makes it the largest energy company in the U.
In comparison, 20MW is not very big, next to other countries. There are larger Bitcoin mining facilities. Riot Blockchain, by comparison, said in their July 16th press release that their aggregate power consumption would be The company purchases natural gas through forward contracts setting a threshold price. Electric power production costs will fluctuate and influence the decision to mine crypto or sell power to the gird.
Greenidge wants to increase its energy consumption. The company has plans to use the plant's total capacity of MW next year. Mining Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is an energy-intensive enterprise. Some argue that it is a waste of energy and that digital assets are purely an environmental drain.
One megawatt, by some estimates, could power about homes on average per year. But this is a difficult statistic to estimate; electric consumption changes by region and need. The choice to one or the other depends on what is more profitable on the day.