Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Chart of the Day
13 May 2021updated 06 Sep 2021 2:15pm

Bitcoin consumes more electricity than Sweden and Ukraine

The cryptocurrency accounts for as much electricity usage as a medium-sized European country. 

Billionaire crypto-speculator and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the car manufacturer will stop vehicle purchases using Bitcoin because of environmental concerns.

The currency, which dropped in value by more than 10 per cent after the announcement, relies on “mining” – which involves computers solving increasingly complex and energy intensive mathematical problems in order to generate the currency.

But just how energy intensive is it? Cambridge University’s Centre for Alternative Finance runs a Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBCEI), which puts the current electricity consumption of the cryptocurrency at 149.6TWh a year.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. Your guide to the best writing across politics, ideas, books and culture - both in the New Statesman and from elsewhere - sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

When compared to data from the International Energy Agency for 2018 (the latest available year), that places it above Sweden and Ukraine for final electricity consumption.

Content from our partners
A better future starts at home
How to create an inclusive workplace and embrace neurodiversity
Universal Credit falls short of covering the bare essentials. That needs to change

The CBCEI also offers a lower Bitcoin electricity estimate of 46.8TWh (somewhere between Portugal and Hungary) and a higher estimate of 514.69 (between France and Germany).

[See also: More than three million UK voters have no form of photo ID]