With bitcoin's price rocketing to over $7,000 in November of this year, its overall electricity consumption has also soared. This is because more and more people worldwide attempt to mine the digital currency using high-powered computers that need vast amounts of energy. A crytpocurrency analyst, Alex de Vries, aka Digiconomist, estimates that with prices as they are now, "it would be profitable for Bitcoin to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptoraphic puzzles to 'mine' more Bitcoins.That is about as much as Nigera, a country of 186 million people, uses in a year". While these figures are not exact, other commentators have made similar estimates indicating the spiralling levels of electricity being used.
The extent to which mining Bitcoins has become big business may be another indication of the speculative price bubble many commentators warn of. Impossible to ignore, Bitcoin has drawn attention from Goldman Sachs to national banks. Its future as a currency may be uncertain, but the environmental implications already beg greater scrutiny. The viability of decentralised network-based currencies depend both on their value and also on their impact.
Here's another perspective on Bitcoin's energy expenditure from Dorothy Ng:
Bitcoin Mining Now Consuming More Electricity Than 159 Countries Including Ireland & Most Countries In Africa
The map above shows which countries consume less electricity than the amount consumed by global bitcoin mining Bitcoin's ongoing meteoric price rise has received the bulk of recent press attention with a lot of discussion around whether or not it's a bubble waiting to burst. However, most th
This signal was also spotted by Joanie Koh:
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images If you're like me, you've probably been ignoring the bitcoin phenomenon for years - because it seemed too complex, far-fetched, or maybe even too libertarian. But if you have any interest in a future where the world moves beyond fossil fuels, you and I should both start paying attention now.