The electricity used to mine bitcoin this year is bigger than the annual usage of 159 countries

LONDON — The amount of energy used by computers “mining” bitcoin so far this year is greater than the annual usage of almost 160 countries, according to new research.

Research by energy tariff comparison service PowerCompare.co.uk shows that the amount of energy expended mining bitcoin globally has already exceeded the amount used on average by Ireland and most African nations.

PowerCompare.co.uk used stats from Bitcoin and cryptocurrency data provider Digiconomist, which estimates that 29.05 TWh of electricity was used to mine bitcoin, compared to an estimated 25 TWh of electricity per year used by Ireland.

You can see a full list of the 159 countries whose energy usage is eclipsed by bitcoin here or see it visualised below (the orange countries are those that use less electricity than bitcoin mining):bitcoin mining vs worldPowerCompare.co.uk

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was created in 2009. It is designed to not be controlled by any one party and is underpinned by a system called blockchain, which records transactions.

To ensure transactions are not falsified or records of ownership changed, participants of the bitcoin network must sign off on transactions in “blocks” (hence, blockchain).

To incentivize people to do this work, which involves computers completing complex cryptographic problems, people who verify blocks are rewarded with freshly created bitcoin. Hence, this process is known as bitcoin “mining.” […]

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