Bitcoin consumes as much electricity as Sweden

How can something that does not physically exist pollute? The fact is that cryptocurrency mining farms require a large amount of energy. In fact, if bitcoin were a country, it would be among the 30 largest consumers of electricity in the world, as 11Onze agent Aitor Canudas explains.


Just a few days after the first bitcoin transaction, which took place in January 2009, cryptocurrency pioneer Hal Finney expressed his concern on Twitter about the CO₂ emissions that this cryptocurrency would generate. And he was not wrong.

A Cambridge University study estimates that the bitcoin network consumes more than 121 TWh of energy annually, which means that, if it were a country, it would be “among the 30 largest consumers of electricity in the world”, according to Canudas. In fact, to give us an idea of the magnitude of the data, the 11Onze agent indicates that this cryptocurrency consumes almost as much electricity as Sweden and generates more CO₂ emissions than Las Vegas.

The reason is that the processes necessary for cryptocurrency operations require a large amount of computer equipment, the “mining farms”, and therefore a huge amount of energy. “This set of computer processes needed to validate transactions and generate new blocks represents 0.2 % of the world’s electricity consumption“, specifies Aitor Canudas.

The problem is particularly relevant in the case of bitcoin, since, as Bill Gates recently warned, this cryptocurrency is the one that consumes the most electricity per transaction. According to estimates by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the use of bitcoins generates a carbon footprint each year of between 22 and 22.9 megatonnes.

The dirty source of clean energy

While we usually see electricity as a clean energy, this basically depends on its origin. Particularly in Asia, and especially in China, much of the electricity generated comes from burning coal, which is highly polluting. Therefore, the fact that a very high percentage of mining farms are located in this region to achieve the most affordable electricity prices multiplies the carbon footprint.

In order to preserve the environment, Aitor Canudas points out the need to increase the percentage of renewable energies in the electricity used “to create the new blocks and make bitcoin transactions”. Another alternative pointed out by the 11Onze agent would be to resort to alternative cryptocurrencies, such as cardano, “which in theory pollute less than bitcoin”.


11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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  1. alicia Coiduras Charlesalicia Coiduras Charles says:

    Gràcies per aquesta informacio

  2. Joan Santacruz CarlúsJoan Santacruz Carlús says:
  3. Carles MarsalCarles Marsal says:
  4. Jordi MorenoJordi Moreno says:

    Cardano, bona informació. Ara q al final les criptomonedes són codis de programació actualitzables, per tant cal una actualització del codi del bitcoin urgent! per a que no siguin contaminants!!

    • Laura Bunyol Bartrina says:

      No sé si això és possible. A termes generals hi hauria d’haver un acord entre tots els miners i és complex fer-ho perquè està en continuu procés de desenvolupament. De totes maneres Bitcoin té un límit establert, algun dia ja no se’n faran més.

      2 years ago
  5. Mercè ComasMercè Comas says:

    Informació molt necessària, gràcies Aitor.
    Les criptos descentralitzaran les finances però provocaran més emissions de CO2.
    Els avenços necessiten energia. No tornarem a l’artesania sinó és com a art o economia minoritària.
    El repte global és doncs quina mena d’energia hem de produir, i alhora, com la produïm.

    • Aitor CanudasAitor Canudas says:

      Totalment d’acord. L’important és descobrir com produir aquesta energia necessària sense contaminar….

      2 years ago
  6. Manuel Bullich BuenoManuel Bullich Bueno says:

    Tot un món desconegut per a mi.
    Esta clar q si anem cap a un món més sostenible, s’hauran de prendre mesures per tal de reduir l’impacte

    • Laura Bunyol Bartrina says:

      Completament, així doncs a més coneixement més consciència i podem fer les coses amb més cura. Sense oblidar que totes les accions tenen la seva conseqüència. Gràcies Manuel

      2 years ago

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