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Bitcoin Energy FUD and Microsoft

During the House Hearing on Crypto’s Energy Use & Impact, there was an opposition in the form of “number of jobs per unit of electricity consumed”. I’m not stunned by the question – I think there’s a reasonable question to ask regarding our understanding of where our energy is going somewhere in there, and maybe there’s some validity to comparing it to our employment figures, I know not . But to gain insight into this kind of thinking, I wanted to compare the energy consumption of one of our favorite companies here in the United States. I chose to look at Microsoft (MSFT). On some quick napkin calculations, I looked at Microsoft’s 2019 employment numbers (144,000), because I could only find data on their energy use from 2019. megawatt hours (MWh). That’s 9,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) or 9.2 terawatt hours (TWh). Before we try to explore the conversation about energy use and moralization, a quick input from the American Geosciences Institute: “The amount of electricity a power plant generates over a given period of time depends on the amount of time it runs at a specific capacity. For example, if the RE Ginna reactor runs at 582 MW for 24 hours, it will generate 13,968 megawatt hours (MWh).” The world’s largest nuclear reactor will be located in Japan from January 2020. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor in Tokyo has a net capacity of barely 8,000 MW, so for the sake of conversation we’ll use that nice, round number. To get our MWh reading so we can compare production to consumption let’s do the math: 8,000 MW output x 24 hours = 192,000 MWh Now we need to get the annual potential output, this statistic won’t necessarily be reliable because nuclear weapons can not work forever . There is very important maintenance along the way to ensure that all safety and legal guidelines are met. But we’re talking hypothetically here: 192,000 MWh x 365 days = 70,080,000 MWh per year or 70,000 GWhor70 TWh. According to, that factory produces enough power to support 16 million households. Here we have Microsoft running almost 13% of that relative consumption for itself. And if we wanted to think about “number of jobs per unit of electricity consumed,” we’d get a figure that looks something like this: 9.2 million MWh / 144,000 employees = 63.9 MWh per employee According to the US Energy Information Administration average household consumes 10,715 kWh per year, at 893 kWh per month. Ok…now my math may be wrong here so check me. But according to my brain, that means Microsoft’s energy consumption per employee is equivalent to about 4,000 households each. Is this really a stat that Bitcoin’s opponents really want to use to try and support its network and assets? Both Microsoft and Bitcoin provide tremendous services to tens of millions of people around the world: between facilitating digital communications and operations, securing purchasing power and providing cross-border payment functionality and settlement finality that have improved by leaps and bounds from today’s. default . As a former artist and academic by passion, all I ask is, can we please criticize on fair, even and honest grounds? Can Bitcoin’s Opponents Throw Hypocrisy and Ignorance Out the Window? This is a guest post from Mike Hobart and Tyler Bain. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
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