InfoShot: Bitcoin energy consumption

The Bitcoin network now consumes as much power as a country the size of Serbia.

When it comes to energy use, today’s IT industry is increasingly hungry. Datacenters alone now account for around 2% of global energy use – about the same as the aviation industry. While various improvements in efficiency have seen the industry’s energy requirements increase at a slower rate in recent years, Bitcoin is becoming increasingly power-hungry.

The computing power required to mine Bitcoin is rising at a rate almost comparable to the ridiculous rate it is rising in value: the number of hashes per second the network is performing has risen from 2 trillion in January of 2017 to over 14 trillion in December of the same year.

All these hashes require immense computing power. When new blocks are mined, the difficulty of the hash calculations increased, resulting in more computing power being required.

To counter the ever-increasing energy-recruitments (and therefore costs), there’s dedicated mining hardware and so-called ‘Bitcoin farms’; datacenter-like facilities that do nothing but mine. For the less honest, ‘cryptojacking’ malware that turns infected machines into remote mining devices is becoming increasingly common, and one man turned his Tesla into a Bitcoin miner in order to make use of free charging points.

According to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index puts estimated annual electricity consumption of Bitcoin at over 32 terawatts – roughly 0.14% of the world’s energy use and equal to a country the size of Serbia.

1 kilowatt hour of electricity produces around 1kg of Carbon Dioxide, meaning some 16,000,000 tons [or 16,000 kilotons] of Co2 are being released as a result of the Bitcoin network. A single transaction releases an estimated 123kg of emissions, equivalent to driving almost 1000 miles in a petrol car from 2016.

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