Menu IconA vertical stack of three evenly spaced horizontal lines. Iceland will likely use more electricity in the next year to mine bitcoin than it how use bitcoin to power every single home in the country. Bitcoin mining is booming in Iceland, and energy providers are worried they won’t be able to power new mining companies.
Iceland’s cool weather, cheap energy and super-fast networks have made the country a popular home for bitcoin mining. Members of the government have proposed taxing profits made by bitcoin mining companies. Iceland may soon use more electricity to mine bitcoin than it uses to power every home, according to an Icelandic energy expert. The energy used by Iceland’s bitcoin mining market is experiencing “exponential growth,” and data centers may use more energy than all of the country’s homes in 2018, Johann Snorri Sigurbergsson from Icelandic energy company HS Orka told the BBC. Sigurbergsson also said HR Orka “won’t have enough energy” to power numerous new data centers that have been proposed. Bitcoin mining occurs when computers verify existing bitcoin transactions by solving complex mathematical problems, and then receive bitcoin as a reward. Sigurbergsson told the BBC he estimates Iceland’s bitcoin mining tools currently use around 840 gigawatt hours of electricity to power computers and cooling systems each year, while most of the country’s homes use around 700 gigawatt hours.
Additionally, Iceland’s cold climate plays an important role in ensuring crypto utilities don’t overheat. Mining hardware generates large amounts of heat, and Iceland’s year-round cool weather saves companies from additional temperature control costs. But the centers still use huge amounts of electricity. Genesis Mining, one of the largest crypto miners in Iceland, has opened three mining facilities in Iceland and in 2016 CEO Marco Streng speculated the company may be one of the biggest single users of power in the country. The rise of crypto mining in the country has prompted government members to consider steps to tax the industry. These companies are not doing that, and we might want to ask ourselves whether they should.
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8 17 10 17 10 17s4. 23 0 0 1 1 16. How much energy does bitcoin mining really use? It’s complicated Bitcoin hype has reached an all-time high. But if running the bitcoin network uses up as much yearly electricity as a medium-sized country, is it worth it? Bitcoin chews through masses of energy, but exactly how much is up for debate. Regardless of the actual number, it’s climbing — so is the environmental cost of the digital currency becoming too high?
This being bitcoin, the numbers are confusing and largely made up. Power consumption is one of the major costs of bitcoin mining, as dedicated machines crunch the algorithms that build a record of every single bitcoin transaction and are rewarded with tiny fractions of a bitcoin for their efforts. As mining gets more difficult, it requires increasingly powerful hardware to be competitive. That evolution, as well as the global spread of miners, makes it difficult to assess exactly how much energy is spent on the digital checks that underpin bitcoin, but there are plenty of people trying to get a handle on just how much power it’s chewing through.
Regardless of whether bitcoin is a bubble or not, we’re investing heavily in infrastructure and burning through huge amounts of energy. If this is going to be a viable alternative financial system, it needs to be financially and environmentally sustainable. And if it never has a chance of being truly useful, and is just a get rich quick scheme, are we destroying the climate for something totally trivial? 10,000, even a fraction of a bitcoin is no longer a trivial amount of money. No matter how lucrative, is a currency experiment worth churning through oodles of energy for? It’s nigh on impossible to know exactly how much energy is being used, but cryptocurrency tracking site Digiconomist is the source of one oft-cited estimate.