Bitcoin mining eats up more electricity than Netherlands, UAE and Argentina

It is not just the value of bitcoin that has climbed in the last couple of months. The tremendous amount of electricity that powers it has also increased.

Scientists at Cambridge say bitcoin mining requires around 121 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power consumption a year — and is unlikely to drop unless the value of the crypto drops.

The University of Cambridge’s Center for Alternative Finance tries to monitor bitcoin electricity consumption. While the exact usage can never be determined, a guess can be made by keeping a tab of the total number of hashes (the measuring unit of the processing power of the crypto network) generated by bitcoin miners and analyzing the efficiency of mining equipment.

Power-hungry business

At a projected 121 terawatt-hours per year, bitcoin now demands more power than the Netherlands, Argentina, or the United Arab Emirates required for all of 2016.

Bitcoin mining is power-hungry and involves massive computer calculations to validate transactions. Based on Cambridge’s calculations, a year’s worth of bitcoin power usage could power all the electric pots of Britain for 27 years.

Recent interest from top Wall Street institutions like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan probably led to the cryptocurrency’s surge in value and a promotion by Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk helped propel its recent peak as investors bet the digital asset will become more widely used in the coming years.

China leads the charge

China mines around two-thirds of all bitcoins and one-third of that are in Xinjiang, which has cheap coal power. Sichuan is the second Chinese city that mines bitcoin. It is home to the Three Gorges Dam, the biggest hydroelectric infrastructure in the world.

The U.S., which mines bitcoin at a rate of 7%, is in the second spot, based on the Cambridge data. Russia and Kazakhstan are in third and fourth places.

Meanwhile, U.K.-listed Argo Blockchain said it had installed 4,500 crypto mining computers from Celsius Network.

Argo said the Bitmain Antminer S19 and S19 Pro mining machines have been installed and are now operational.


Image courtesy of Journeyman Pictures/YouTube Screenshot

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