Bitcoin’s “mining” network uses more electricity in a year than the whole of Ireland, according to statistics released as the currency broke $9,000 for the first time.
According to Digiconomist, the estimated power use of the Bitcoin network, which is responsible for verifying transactions made with cryptocurrency, is 30.14TWh a year, which exceeds that of 19 other European countries. At a continuous power drain of 3.4GW, it means the network consumes five times more electricity than is produced by the largest wind farm in Europe, the London Array in the outer Thames Estuary, at 630MW.
As such, at those levels of electricity consumption, each individual Bitcoin transaction uses almost 300KWh of electricity- enough to boil around 36,000 kettles full of water. Although power consumption of other payment networks is harder to isolate, one of Visa’s two US data centers reportedly runs on about 2% of the power required by Bitcoin. Between them, those two datacenters conduct around 200m transactions a day; the Bitcoin network handless fewer than 350,000.
As the price of Bitcoin surges, so does the value of the reward, entailing that more miners put more computers to the task of running the network. But since the price of Bitcoin doesn’t necessarily rise in step with the number of transactions, that disconnect means the currency uses a significant amount of power per transaction in period of high prices.
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