Bitcoin’s rinsed the electric, again

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
14 December 2017
New Tech

Cryptocurrencies have been making the headlines over the past few years, and not always for the right reasons.

If you got into the Bitcoin game in the early days and didn’t sell, you’re definitely hella rich by now. The value of Bitcoins has increased dramatically this year – 1 Bitcoin is now worth £12,661.

Super computers
There’s a lot of hype around Bitcoin mining, and it’s no longer just the realm of the cyber geek. Everyone’s getting in on the action. The vision with digital currencies was to be a replacement for money and not a gross investment opportunity though. But, you can’t blame people for wanting to ride the wave.

One of the big issues with Bitcoin mining is the super computers behind it. Bitcoins are mined using software and a mathematical formula, using computers that run day and night.  Just think of the juice needed to power all those computers around the world.

All that juice
The processing hardware needed to carry out these formulas is huge. Each Bitcoin transaction apparently uses the same amount of energy as powering 9 homes for one day. There’s on average over 350,000 transactions a day, you do the maths.

That’s a lot of power.  Bitcoins also use around 31 terawatt hours per year, which is more than 150 countries around the world’s yearly energy consumption. Ireland and Denmark apparently used less energy last year than a little bit of Bitcoin mining (it sounds harmless right, until you put it into perspective).

(Carbon) footprints in the sand 
There’s no denying that cryptocurrencies have a colossal carbon footprint. Whether the exact figures are true, it’s difficult to say, as there aren’t any recognised sources on energy usage. As cryptocurrencies become more and more popular, the amount of power use worldwide will increase significantly.

But is it just a case of sourcing more energy-efficient technologies and reducing operational costs? Answers in the comments.



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