A new report from the United States’ Energy Information Administration shows crypto miners around the world used as much electricity as the entirety of Australia in 2023.
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According to the EIA, worldwide electricity use in cryptocurrency mining accounts for 0.2% to 0.9% of global demand.
“Mining” cryptocurrencies like bitcoin involves solving complex cryptographic puzzles to add new tokens to the blockchain. These problems can only be solved using extremely powerful computers that require a lot of electricity.
A 2021 New York Times analysis reported that bitcoin mining uses seven times as much energy as Google uses in a year, which equals roughly 91TWh.
“As cryptocurrency mining has increased in the United States, concerns have grown about the energy-intensive nature of the business and its effects on the U.S. electric power industry,” the EIA report stated.
“Concerns expressed to EIA include strains to the electricity grid during periods of peak demand, the potential for higher electricity prices, as well as effects on energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.”
The crypto mining industry continues to grow, with calculations by the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, the share of bitcoin mining taking place in the country rose from 3.4% in January 2020 to 37.8% in January 2022.
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The US government intends to further scrutinise the industry’s energy use, with the EIA recently approved to survey commercial crypto miners on their energy usage.