Bitcoin mining is potentially lucrative, but it’s also increasing the world’s energy consumption. This week, economist Alex de Vries published some eye-popping estimates.
In a society concerned with energy conservation and the human toll on our environment, the energy consumption required to successfully mine bitcoin is a rising concern. On May 16, economist Alex de Vries published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Joule outlining how much electricity the process of mining bitcoin currently requires, and how much it may require in the future, given existing trends.
According to Vries’ estimates, the bitcoin network currently consumes 2.55 gigawatts (Gw) of energy, and that number could potentially reach 7.67 Gw by the end of 2018. Such an increase would make the energy consumption used by the bitcoin network on par with that of a small country; Ireland, for example, uses 3.1 Gw and Austria uses 8.2 Gw.