Cryptocurrency mining rigs at a crypto mining farm in Romania.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON — Bitcoin’s price isn’t the only thing surging lately — the amount of electricity it consumes is also on the rise.
The cryptocurrency has for years alarmed experts due to the sheer level of energy required by so-called miners, which release new coins into circulation.
Bitcoin has a carbon footprint comparable to that of New Zealand, producing 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually, according to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, an online tool created by data scientist Alex de Vries. It consumes as much power as Chile — around 77.78 TWh — according to Digonomist’s estimates.
The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a separate tool from researchers at Cambridge University, shows a much larger figure of 110.53 TWh — more than the entire annual energy consumption of the Netherlands.
“That’s an unfathomable amount of electricity,” said Charles Hoskinson, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur who co-founded Ethereum, the blockchain network underpinning ether, the world’s second-most valuable digital coin.
Bitcoin’s energy needs are “enormously large,” Michel Rauchs, research affiliate at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, told CNBC. It accounts for around 0.5% of total global electricity consumption, according to the Cambridge researchers’ estimates.
“Although we agree the amounts are ludicrous right now, that is still half as much as inactive home appliances in the U.S. consumed,” Rauchs said. The amount of energy wasted on idle home