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The Bitcoin SV blockchain takes first place in energy efficiency

Assurance, risk & audit firm, MNP conducted a study of blockchain energy consumption & found that the Bitcoin SV blockchain is significantly more efficient than others.

‘BTC consumes a significant amount of energy more than the other two protocols, we’re talking orders of magnitude. BTC is increasing in consumption over time for both kilowatt-hours per transaction and kilowatt-hours per megabyte.

But if we look at Bitcoin SV it is a completely different story – it is actually trending downward over time,’ Joe MacCallum, Senior Consultant at MNP

MNP is an assurance, risk and audit firm serving the mid-market who conducted a study of blockchain energy consumption.

MNP has around 100,000 clients. The MNP team has 5,000 members and over 2,000 of those are CPAs. The firm does a lot of work in the professional consulting and audit side and has a growing ESG business. 

Disclaimer: MNP’s opinions are a result of a business risk review, not a legal review. It is not an external financial statement audit, and it was done at a point in time based on the information available to MNP.

MNP’s search for a more efficient blockchain

MNP set out to establish a working model to compare different blockchain networks in terms of how they consume energy. The sample networks they chose were Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV). 

Their conclusion? Bitcoin SV, or the BSV blockchain, is significantly more energy efficient than the others. 

How MNP concluded that Bitcoin SV is the most efficient blockchain

When approaching a study like this, MNP considered the importance of understanding the proof-of-work consensus mechanisms underlying the networks and how they translate into power consumption. Their big takeaway was that as the number of miners on a network increases, so does the overall hash power and difficulty of mining on the network. This results in higher power consumption.

The factors that affect blockchain power consumption

On the right side of the graph below, you see the processes that drive the consumption of the network. Energy consumption thus breaks down into two things: the difficulty and the efficiency of the equipment that’s being used to perform the mining operations. 

To compare these factors across blockchains, MNP used a standard of Watt-hours per block (Wh/block), Watt-hours per megabyte (Wh/MB) and Watt-hours per transaction (Wh/transaction).

Modelling approach: leveraging previous work

MNP built on the research of others who were approaching their calculations based on the equipment being used to approximate their energy consumption. From there they take the equipment’s energy efficiency, multiply it by the hash rate, multiply it by time to convert it to units like kilowatt hours.

Because some networks have more nodes and more miners, their key efficiency criteria for the comparison is the consumption, the average energy consumption per block, the average energy consumption per transaction and the average energy consumption per megabyte validated.

Key findings: the Bitcoin SV blockchain is becoming MORE efficient over time

As stated earlier, the study found that BTC consumes significantly more energy than the other two protocols. 

To validate their findings, MNP compared their results with actual data from Canadian miners on the BTC network. The comparison delivered a one to one and a half percentage difference, indicating a high level of accuracy. 

What’s more is that the BTC network’s consumption was increasing over time per transaction and per megabyte. Where BTC consumed around 430 kWh per transaction in early 2020, it had increased to 706 kWh per transaction in 2021.

When looking at BSV, the opposite trend became visible with its consumption trending downwards over time; from about 2.4 kWh per transaction in Q2 of 2021 compared to 3.3 kWh per transaction in Q3 of 2020.

A story of blockchain throughput and block size

MNP attributes the opposing trends between BSV and BTC as well as the vast gap in energy consumption to the difference in throughput and block size. BSV averages more transactions, which results in a more energy efficient operation.

Bitcoin SV is much more energy efficient per transaction. And the reason for this is the uncapped block size.

22nd Apr 2022
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