SOURCE: BBC News

DATE: July 3, 2019

SNIP: Bitcoin uses as much energy as the whole of Switzerland, a new online tool from the University of Cambridge shows.

The tool makes it easier to see how the crypto-currency network’s energy usage compares with other entities.

However, one expert argued that it was the crypto-currency’s carbon footprint that really mattered.

Currently, the tool estimates that Bitcoin is using around seven gigawatts of electricity, equal to 0.21% of the world’s supply.

Over the course of a year, this equates to roughly the same power consumption as Switzerland.

In order to “mine” Bitcoin, computers known as mining machines are connected to the crypto-currency network.

They are tasked with verifying transactions made by people who send or receive Bitcoin. This process involves solving puzzles.

The puzzles aren’t integral to verifying movements of Bitcoin, they simply provide a hurdle to ensure no-one fraudulently edits the global record of all transactions. As a reward for pitching in to this system, miners occasionally receive small amounts of Bitcoin.

To make as much money from this process as possible, people often connect large numbers of miners to the network – even entire warehouses full of them.

That uses lots of electricity because the miners are more or less constantly working.

[D]espite its many proponents, the Bitcoin network has an energy consumption problem. It uses lots of energy despite processing fewer than 100 million financial transactions per year.

[T]he number was “completely insignificant” in global terms. The traditional financial industry processes 500 billion transactions per year.