Bitcoin consumes more electricity than Argentina, UAE, and the Netherlands

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3-min read
Crypto currency / Blockchain concept with coin on the motherboard.
Mining the virtual coin involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Photo: Getty

If Bitcoin (BTC-USD) were a country, it would be in the top 30 energy users worldwide, consuming more electricity than Argentina.

That’s according to analysis by Cambridge University’s online tool, which showed that the virtual coin uses around 121.36 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year.

This is above Argentina, which is at 121 TWh, the Netherlands, which consumes 108.8 TWh, and the United Arab Emirates (113.20 TWh). Bitcoin is also gradually creeping up on Norway, which stands at 122.20 TWh.

Mining the virtual coin involves heavy computer calculations to verify transactions. Bitcoin’s annual electricity consumption is unlikely to fall unless the value of the currency drops, as the price increases so does the energy consumption, researchers at the Cambridge Centre said.

The energy it uses could power all kettles used in the UK for 27 years, it said.

READ MORE: Bitcoin continues to soar with new all-time high

“Bitcoin is literally anti-efficient,” David Gerard, author of Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain, told BBC News. “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.”

The cryptocurrency hit a record high of $48,000 (£34,681) a coin this week after Tesla (TSLA) founder Elon Musk announced that the company had bought about $1.5bn Bitcoin.

He added that Tesla expects to “begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for [its] products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis, which [it] may or may not liquidate upon receipt.”

It is currently 6% higher on Thursday at $47,780.

Previously, tweets by Tesla CEO Elon Musk have fuelled the Bitcoin price.

Bitcoin is currently 6% higher on Thursday at $47,780. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Bitcoin is currently 6% higher on Thursday at $47,780. Chart: Yahoo Finance

The move “highlights the power that Elon Musk has in shaping price action and moving markets. He’s now putting his money (shareholders’) where his mouth is,” noted Neil WIlson, chief market analyst for Markets.com.

Meanwhile, the price of dogecoin (DOGE-USD) has also surged in recent weeks after Musk began tweeting about it. The rise has coincided with a surge of populism in financial markets around the world.

Dogecoin hit a new all-time high last week, as celebrity attention including by Musk continued to buoy up the price of the joke token.

WATCH: What is bitcoin?

The cryptocurrency, which uses a Shiba Inu dog as its mascot, first started up as a joke in 2013 but has seen its market capitalisation pass $6bn.

Musk first tweeted just the word “Doge,” followed by “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto”, and “No highs, no lows, only Doge”. He also posted a Lion King meme of him holding up the dogecoin dog as if it were Simba.

He said at the time: "They are really just meant to be jokes, but you know Dogecoin was made as a joke to make fun of cryptocurrencies obviously, but fate loves irony and often as a friend of mine says that the most ironic outcome or I'd say the most entertaining outcome and the most ironic outcome would be that Dogecoin becomes the currency of earth in the future.”

Bitcoin started 2020 at around $7,000 per coin. Despite its rise in the last year, the cryptocurrency remains extremely volatile and experts continue to remain sceptical about using it as an investment.

However, a survey published last week showed almost two-thirds of UK investors intend to buy bitcoin in 2021 and well over half expect its value to increase to $60,000 (£43,000).

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