Bitcoin, love it or hate it, is a financial reality that has moved into the mainstream. With attention — and value — higher than ever, people around the world are mining in hopes of picking up precious digital fragments of the cryptocurrency. The environmental cost of cryptocurrency mining was a concerned raised years ago and one that has received renewed attention thanks to a new report: Bitcoin mining is using more electricity than 12 US states and 159 countries.
The information comes from Power Compare referencing the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index from Digiconomist. As of November 20th, 2017, the amount of electricity used to mine Bitcoin over the past year was 29.05TWh…or about 0.13-percent of the electricity used around the entire world during the same time period. It’s hard to comprehend just how much energy that is, though, so it has been put into reference using examples.
Overall, the mining electricity use is more than that of 159 countries; it is enough to power 2.4 million Americans, or the entire city of Houston with some to spare. That number nearly triples if it were to be used for powering individuals in the UK. Overall, the electricity is greater than what is used by a dozen US states: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.
If things continue as they have been, it is expected that Bitcoin electricity usage will grow to match the current global electricity usage by early 2020. Highlighting that expectation is the reality that Bitcoin mining electricity usage has increased nearly 30-percent in the past month. The environmental impact of such mining actions have officials worried, particularly in places where electricity is derived from coal plants rather than renewable resources.