Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary has a surprising take on bitcoin, the world’s best-known cryptocurrency.
O’Leary offered up some comments on the alternative currency on Twitter recently.
In general, O’Leary appears to be a fan. He’s slated to offer a keynote address at the DC Blockchain Summit later in May.
Bitcoin and other crypto currencies have been having a tough time of late. The bellwether cryptocurrency has fallen more than 50% from its November high of $68,789.62. In recent trading, Bitcoin has barely held the $30,000 mark.
Beyond the wild swings in valuation, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have seen another controversy develop as they’ve gained in popularity.
Bitcoin are “mined” by computers performing increasingly complex calculations. Because each new bitcoin requires more computing power, it also consumes more energy to mine.
That’s not so bad for the environment if the electricity used to generate the coin comes from solar or other renewable energy sources. But in countries like China, where electricity is still produced in great quantities from coal, it’s another story.
It's the environmental impact that's at the center of O’Leary’s recent comments on Twitter.
He argues that. “The truth is, Bitcoin mining can actually be a GOOD thing for the environment if it forces us to change the way we make energy.” He added that “There's so much opportunity in Bitcoin mining using 100% sustainable green energy like wind, solar, nuclear and hydro.”
The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance estimates bitcoin mining is currently consuming 146.7 terawatts of power on an annualized basis. That’s more than all of Ukraine was consuming before Russia’s invasion, and about equal to Egypt’s annual usage.
The recent plunge in bitcoin could slow that pace, however, as miners tend to turn off their rigs during declines because production isn’t profitable at lower prices.