When the cryptocurrency craze reached a fever pitch in last year. Everyone and their dog wanted in on the action, and new digital currencies are springing up every day.
There are now over 7100 listed on Coinmarketcap, with new entries breaking into the top 20 almost every week. This growing popularity has had a surprising side-effect: a spike in demand for computer hardware, particularly GPUs.
At Bitcoin’s peak prices, demand for graphics cards resulted in them selling out virtually everywhere – even if you were willing to pay almost double the recommended retail price. With so much of the world suddenly interested in mining virtual coins, where does that leave us environmentally?
How Does Cryptocurrency Mining Work?
Mining is the process by which new cryptocurrencies are generated. Computers solve complex mathematical equations to verify transactions and create new coins in the process.
The more coins are generated, the harder the equations become to solve, which is why mining gets harder over time. The computer hardware used for mining is highly specialized and creates a lot of heat, which leads to increased electricity usage.
As a result, mining rigs are usually built in dedicated rooms with air conditioning to prevent overheating.
How Does Mining Hurt the Environment?
Mining rigs are built to run 24/7 – however, the noise and heat generated by these machines don’t come without a price. The fans are there to keep everything running smoothly, but they also make a lot of noise and use a lot of electricity.
To make matters worse, cooling down rigs is usually done using air conditioning, which pumps warm air out and cold air in. Powering up cooling systems and AC units adds to the carbon footprint of mining rigs, making it difficult to see any benefits from mining digital coins in the long term.
5 Ways to Protect the Environment While Mining
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to reduce the environmental impact of mining – and we won’t have to stop mining entirely.
The growing popularity of digital currencies has led to a boom in “mining” operations where people compete to solve complex math puzzles to unlock new coins. Newer cryptocurrencies are also generally mined using graphics cards instead of central processing units (CPUs), which are considered less energy-intensive.
That might make it seem like cryptocurrency mining has a positive impact on the environment—but that’s not the case. The truth is, cryptocurrency mining has a big carbon footprint and poses a major threat to the environment unless precautions are taken.
Choose the right right equipment – Certain GPUs are more eco-friendly than others. You can find out more about which ones in our guide.
Use an online mining profitability calculator – If the coin is not as valuable and also consumes a lot of power to mine, choose another.
Choose a mining rig instead – specialized machines sold by Bitmain and others that are now more efficient than before.
Get an efficient PSU for your mining rig – The right PSU will reduce energy consumption and cost you less over time.
Don’t leave your mining rig running 24/7 – Mining can be done in short bursts so that the mining rig isn’t always at 100%.
Only buy what you need – Don’t waste resources, some ming rigs are simply too powerful for the coin you intend to mine.
Maybe you only need one GPU? – If you’re using a mining rig, you only need one GPU.
The cryptocurrency craze has created a surge in demand for computer hardware, and GPUs are particularly popular. While cryptocurrency mining can be profitable, it comes at a high cost to the environment.
However, there are plenty of ways to reduce the environmental impact of mining – and you don’t have to stop mining entirely.