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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. 

By Michael Goodier

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.

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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.

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]

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