Bitcoin Uses About as Much Energy as Switzerland

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The University of Cambridge has introduced a new tool that measures the Bitcoin network’s energy use. Calculations from earlier this week showed that the cryptocurrency was using “around seven gigawatts of electricity, equal to 0.21% of the world’s supply” annually. That’s consistent with the amount of power that Switzerland consumes over the course of a year.

The calculator currently shows an even higher figure at 8+ GW. Bitcoin energy expert Alex de Vries reiterates that the cryptocurrency has an energy consumption problem, which is especially ridiculous since there are fewer than 100 million financial transactions per year, a “completely insignificant” number. (The financial industry processes around 500 billion transactions per year.)

The website features a comparison section to help visitors independently assess the relative magnitude of Bitcoin’s electricity usage: for example, the current annual estimate of 50 terawatt-hours (TWh) could power all European tea kettles used to boil water for a year, or satisfy the energy needs of the University of Cambridge for 365 years. Looked at from a different perspective, the electricity wasted each year by always-on but inactive home devices in the United States alone could power the Bitcoin network more than four times.


Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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