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Bitcoin uses more electricity than Argentina

by on12 February 2021

Don’t cry for me Tesla

Bitcoin uses more electricity annually than the whole of Argentina, analysis by Cambridge University suggests.

'Mining' for the cryptocurrency is power-hungry, involving heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Cambridge researchers say it consumes around 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year -- and is unlikely to fall unless the value of the currency slumps.

The online tool has ranked Bitcoin's electricity consumption above Argentina (121 TWh), the Netherlands (108.8 TWh) and the United Arab Emirates (113.20 TWh) - and it is gradually creeping up on Norway (122.20 TWh). The energy it uses could power all kettles used in the UK for 27 years, it said. However, it also suggests the amount of electricity consumed every year by always-on but inactive home devices in the US alone could power the entire Bitcoin network for a year.

David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain warned that Bitcoin was anti-efficient so more efficient mining hardware won't help -- it'll just be competing against other efficient mining hardware.

“This means that Bitcoin's energy use, and hence its CO2 production, only spirals outwards. It's very bad that all this energy is being literally wasted in a lottery”, he said.

It all puts electric-car firm Tesla's decision to invest heavily in Bitcoin in the dark as it undermines its environmental image

Gerard added: "Elon Musk has thrown away a lot of Tesla's good work promoting energy transition. This is very bad... I don't know how he can walk this back effectively. Tesla got $1.5 billion in environmental subsidies in 2020, funded by the taxpayer. It turned around and spent $1.5 billion on Bitcoin, which is mostly mined with electricity from coal. Its subsidy needs to be examined."

Last modified on 12 February 2021
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